Journal Article

Self-sterility in flowering plants: preventing self-fertilization increases family diversification rates

Miriam M. Ferrer and Sara V. Good

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 3, pages 535-553
Published in print August 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcs124
Self-sterility in flowering plants: preventing self-fertilization increases family diversification rates

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

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Background and Scope

New data are presented on the distribution and frequency of self-sterility (SS) – predominantly pre-zygotic self-incompatibility (SI) systems – in flowering plants and the hypothesis is tested that families with self-sterile taxa have higher net diversification rates (DRs) than those with exclusively self-compatible taxa using both absolute and relative rate tests.

Key Results

Three major forms of SI systems (where pollen is rejected at the stigmatic, stylar or ovarian interface) are found to occur in the oldest families of flowering plants, with times of divergence >100 million years before the present (mybp), while post-fertilization SS and heterostyly appear in families with crown ages of 81 and 87 mybp, respectively. It is also founnd that many (22) angiosperm families exhibit >1 SI phenotype and that the distribution of different types of SS does not show strong phylogenetic clustering, collectively suggesting that SS and SI systems have evolved repeatedly de novo in angiosperm history. Families bearing self-sterile taxa have higher absolute DRs using all available calibrations of the angiosperm tree, and this affect is caused mostly by the high DR of families with homomorphic SI systems (in particular stigmatic SI) or those in which multiple SS/SI phenotypes have been observed (polymorphic). Lastly, using sister comparisons, it is further demonstrated that in 29 of 38 sister pairs (including 95 families), the self-sterile sister group had higher species richness and DR than its self-compatible sister based on either the total number of taxa in the clade with SS or only the estimated fraction to harbour SS based on literature surveys.

Conclusions

Collectively, these analyses point to the importance of SS, particularly pre-zygotic SI in the evolution of flowering plants.

Keywords: Self-sterility; self-incompatibility; breeding system evolution; species richness; diversification rates

Journal Article.  12024 words.  Illustrated.

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

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