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Keywords:

  • embryonic lethals;
  • inbreeding depression;
  • plant mating systems;
  • reproductive compensation;
  • seed : ovule ratio;
  • self-fertilization

Summary

  • Reproductive compensation, the replacement of dead embryos by potentially viable ones, is known to play a major role in the maintenance of deleterious mutations in mammalian populations. However, it has received little attention in plant evolution. Here we model the joint evolution of mating system and inbreeding depression with reproductive compensation.
  • We used a dynamic model of inbreeding depression, allowing for partial purging of recessive lethal mutations by selfing.
  • We showed that reproductive compensation tended to increase the mean number of lethals in a population, but favored self-fertilization by effectively decreasing early inbreeding depression. When compensation depended on the selfing rate, stable mixed mating systems can occur, with low to intermediate selfing rates.
  • Experimental evidence of reproductive compensation is required to confirm its potential importance in the evolution of plant mating systems. We suggest experimental methods to detect reproductive compensation.