Journal Article

Asymmetrical conspecific seed-siring advantage between <i>Silene latifolia</i> and <i>S. dioica</i>

Benjamin R. Montgomery, Deanna M. Soper and Lynda F. Delph

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 105, issue 4, pages 595-605
Published in print April 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Asymmetrical conspecific seed-siring advantage between Silene latifolia and S. dioica

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

Silene dioica and S. latifolia experience only limited introgression despite overlapping flowering phenologies, geographical distributions, and some pollinator sharing. Conspecific pollen precedence and other reproductive barriers operating between pollination and seed germination may limit hybridization. This study investigates whether barriers at this stage contribute to reproductive isolation between these species and, if so, which mechanisms are responsible.


Pollen-tube lengths for pollen of both species in styles of both species were compared. Additionally, both species were pollinated with majority S. latifolia and majority S. dioica pollen mixes; then seed set, seed germination rates and hybridity of the resulting seedlings were determined using species-specific molecular markers.

Key Results

The longest pollen tubes were significantly longer for conspecific than heterospecific pollen in both species, indicating conspecific pollen precedence. Seed set but not seed germination was lower for flowers pollinated with pure heterospecific versus pure conspecific pollen. Mixed-species pollinations resulted in disproportionately high representation of nonhybrid offspring for pollinations of S. latifolia but not S. dioica flowers.


The finding of conspecific pollen precedence for pollen-tube growth but not seed siring in S. dioica flowers may be explained by variation in pollen-tube growth rates, either at different locations in the style or between leading and trailing pollen tubes. Additionally, this study finds a barrier to hybridization operating between pollination and seed germination against S. dioica but not S. latifolia pollen. The results are consistent with the underlying cause of this barrier being attrition of S. dioica pollen tubes or reduced success of heterospecifically fertilized ovules, rather than time-variant mechanisms. Post-pollination, pre-germination barriers to hybridization thus play a partial role in limiting introgression between these species.

Keywords: Conspecific pollen precedence; hybridization; pollen tubes; reproductive isolation; Silene dioica; Silene latifolia

Journal Article.  8464 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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