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Keywords:

  • Baker's rule;
  • gametophytic self-incompatibility;
  • genetic bottleneck;
  • mating systems;
  • molecular adaptation;
  • S-RNase gene;
  • Solanaceae;
  • transgeneric evolution

Over 50 years ago, Baker (1955, 1967) suggested that self-compatible species were more likely than self-incompatible species to establish new populations on oceanic islands. His logic was straightforward and rested on the assumption that colonization was infrequent; thus, mate limitation favored the establishment of self-fertilizing individuals. In support of Baker's rule, many authors have documented high frequencies of self-compatibility on islands, and recent work has solidified the generality of Baker's ideas. The genus Lycium (Solanaceae) has ca. 80 species distributed worldwide, and phylogenetic studies suggest that Lycium originated in South America and dispersed to the Old World a single time. Previous analyses of the S-RNase gene, which controls the stylar component of self-incompatibility, have shown that gametophytically controlled self-incompatibility is ancestral within the genus, making Lycium a good model for investigating Baker's assertions concerning reproductive assurance following oceanic dispersal. Lycium is also useful for investigations of reproductive evolution, given that species vary both in sexual expression and the presence of self-incompatibility. A model for the evolution of gender dimorphism suggests that polyploidy breaks down self-incompatibility, leading to the evolution of gender dimorphism, which arises as an alternative outcrossing mechanism. There is a perfect association of dimorphic gender expression, polyploidy, and self-compatibility (vs. cosexuality, diploidy, and self-incompatibility) among North American Lycium. Although the association between ploidy level and gender expression also holds for African Lycium, to date no studies of mating systems have been initiated in Old World species. Here, using controlled pollinations, we document strong self-incompatibility in two cosexual, diploid species of African Lycium. Further, we sequence the S-RNase gene in 15 individuals from five cosexual, diploid species of African Lycium and recover 24 putative alleles. Genealogical analyses indicate reduced trans-generic diversity of S-RNases in the Old World compared to the New World. We suggest that genetic diversity at this locus was reduced as a result of a founder event, but, despite the bottleneck, self-incompatibility was maintained in the Old World. Maximum-likelihood analyses of codon substitution patterns indicate that positive Darwinian selection has been relatively strong in the Old World, suggesting the rediversification of S-RNases following a bottleneck. The present data thus provide a dramatic exception to Baker's rule, in addition to supporting a key assumption of the Miller and Venable (2000) model, namely that self-incompatibility is associated with diploidy and cosexuality.