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Keywords:

  • allopolyploidy;
  • interploidal hybridization;
  • Sphagnum;
  • Sphagnum lescurii;
  • triploidy

Abstract

Polyploidization is thought to result in instant sympatric speciation, but several cases of hybrid zones between one of the parental species and its polyploid derivative have been documented. Previous work showed that diploid Sphagnum lescurii is an allopolyploid derived from the haploids S. lescurii (maternal progenitor) and S. subsecundum (paternal progenitor). Here, we report the results from analyses of a population where allodiploid and haploid S. lescurii co-occur and produce sporophytes. We tested (i) whether haploids and diploids form hybrid triploid sporophytes; (ii) how hybrid and nonhybrid sporophytes compare in fitness; (iii) whether hybrid sporophytes form viable spores; (iv) the ploidy of any viable gametophyte offspring from hybrid sporophytes; (v) the relative viability of sporelings derived from hybrid and nonhybrid sporophytes; and (vi) if interploidal hybridization results in introgression between the allopolyploid and its haploid progenitor. We found that triploid hybrid sporophytes do occur and are larger than nonhybrid sporophytes, but exhibit very low germination percentages and produce sporelings that develop more slowly than those from nonhybrid sporophytes. All sporophytes attached to haploid gametophytes were triploid and were sired by diploid males, but all sporophytes attached to diploid gametophytes were tetraploid. This asymmetric pattern of interploidal hybridization is related to an absence of haploid male gametophytes in the population. Surprisingly, all sporelings from triploid sporophytes were triploid, yet were genetically variable, suggesting some form of aberrant meiosis that warrants further study. There was limited (but some) evidence of introgression between allodiploid and haploid S. lescurii.