Multiple origins of self-fertilization in tristylous Eichhornia paniculata (Pontederiaceae): Inferences from style morph and isozyme variation



Populations of Eichhornia paniculata (Pontederiaceae) exhibit a wide range of mating systems, from predominant outcrossing to high levels of self-fertilization. The origin of self-fertilization in this tristylous species is associated with the loss of style-length morphs from populations and the spread of self-pollinating, floral variants. We examined geographic variation in style morph and allozyme frequencies to determine whether the loss of style morphs and transition to selfing could have multiple origins in E. paniculata. Surveys of floral variation in 167 populations from six states in northeastern Brazil revealed that at least one style morph was absent from 29.3%. Non-trimorphic populations occurred in all states and ranged in frequency from 9% in Ceará to 68% in Alagoas. Selfing variants occurred in 8.5% and 55% of trimorphic and non-trimorphic populations, respectively, and were distributed among five of six states with primary concentrations in Alagoas and Pernambuco. A comparison of electrophoretic variation at 24 isozyme loci in 28 trimorphic, 13 dimorphic and 3 monomorphic populations indicated that non-trimorphic populations contained 84% of the allelic variation present in trimorphic populations and were markedly differentiated from one another. Analyses of genetic distance and the distribution of rare alleles indicated that non-trimorphic populations were often more similar to neighbouring trimorphic populations than to one another. Populations with selfing variants occurred at low frequency in three genetically distinct parts of the range. These results, in combination with genetic and morphological evidence suggest that style morphs are lost repeatedly from populations of E. paniculata and that selfing variants may have originated on at least three separate occasions in northeastern Brazil.