Close clustering of anthers and stigma in Ipomoea hederacea enhances prezygotic isolation from Ipomoea purpurea


Author for correspondence: Robin Ann Smith Tel: +919 660 7097 Email:


  • • Theory predicts that, for taxa that are already substantially postzygotically isolated but for which hybrid mating is still costly, enhanced prezygotic isolation will be favored. Here, we tested this hypothesis by examining the potential contribution of one particular floral trait, herkogamy, to prezygotic isolation between two species of morning glory, Ipomoea hederacea and Ipomoea purpurea.
  • • This trait was experimentally manipulated to determine whether it is a likely prezygotic isolating barrier in naturally pollinated arrays in the field.
  • • Emasculated I. hederacea flowers set significantly fewer seeds than did control flowers, indicating that clustering of anthers and stigma in I. hederacea enhances prezygotic isolation from I. purpurea. We hypothesize that this occurs through some combination of mechanical protection and increased self-pollination, with the effect of mechanical protection estimated to be 30% greater than the effect of increased selfing.
  • • Our results identify stigma–anther proximity as a likely prezygotic isolating barrier and target of selection in the presence of heterospecific pollen flow, and provide motivation for further study of the role of floral morphology in reproductive isolation in this system.