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The influence of floral morph ratios and low plant density on mating and fertility in a tristylous colonizing species

Balogh, Christopher M., Barrett, Spencer C.H.
Botany 2018 v.96 no.8 pp. 533-545
Lythrum salicaria, field experimentation, fruits, heterostyly, invasive species, mating types, morphs, open pollination, plant density, pollen, pollen flow, population size, progeny, seed set, sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction in heterostylous populations may be vulnerable to demographic conditions because of the small number of mating types in populations. Here, we investigate mating and fertility under natural and experimental conditions in tristylous Lythrum salicaria L., an invasive species that exhibits a wide range of floral morph ratios and demographic contexts. We grew 147 open-pollinated seed families from six populations with different morph structures to estimate intermorph mating (d). In a field experiment, we used progeny ratios from 47 spatially isolated individuals to estimate d, and measured the intensity of pollen limitation experienced by the morphs. The M- and S-morphs experienced high rates of d, regardless of population size or morph ratio. Estimates for the L-morph revealed low levels of intramorph mating in three dimorphic and two trimorphic populations, but near complete intramorph mating in a monomorphic population. Despite high levels of intermorph mating in the field experiment, the morphs experienced significant pollen limitation of fruit and seed set, but this did not differ in intensity among the morphs. Our field experiment demonstrates that although plant isolation was associated with pollen limitation of seed set, “long-distance” bee-mediated pollen flow served to maintain intermorph mating. Tristyly in L. salicaria is remarkably robust to the demographic variation associated with colonization.