Disentangling the causes of heterogeneity in male fecundity in gynodioecious Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima
Author for correspondence:
I. De Cauwer
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- •Variation among individuals in reproductive success is advocated as a major process driving evolution of sexual polymorphisms in plants, such as gynodioecy where females and hermaphrodites coexist. In gynodioecious Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima, sex determination involves cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) genes and nuclear restorers of male fertility. Both restored CMS and non-CMS hermaphrodites co-occur. Genotype-specific differences in male fitness are theoretically expected to explain the maintenance of cytonuclear polymorphism.
- •Using genotypic information on seedlings and flowering plants within two metapopulations, we investigated whether male fecundity was influenced by ecological, phenotypic and genetic factors, while taking into account the shape and scale of pollen dispersal.
- •Along with spatially restricted pollen flow, we showed that male fecundity was affected by flowering synchrony, investment in reproduction, pollen production and cytoplasmic identity of potential fathers. Siring success of non-CMS hermaphrodites was higher than that of restored CMS hermaphrodites. However, the magnitude of the difference in fecundity depended on the likelihood of carrying restorer alleles for non-CMS hermaphrodites.
- •Our results suggest the occurrence of a cost of silent restorers, a condition supported by scarce empirical evidence, but theoretically required to maintain a stable sexual polymorphism in gynodioecious species.