Multiple paternity and sporophytic inbreeding depression in a dioicous moss species.Heredity (Edinb). 2009 Nov; 103(5):394-403.H
Multiple paternity (polyandry) frequently occurs in flowering plants and animals and is assumed to have an important function in the evolution of reproductive traits. Polyandry in bryophytes may occur among multiple sporophytes of a female gametophyte; however, its occurrence and extent is unknown. In this study we investigate the occurrence and extent of multiple paternity, spatial genetic structure, and sporophytic inbreeding depression in natural populations of a dioicous bryophyte species, Sphagnum lescurii, using microsatellite markers. Multiple paternity is prevalent among sporophytes of a female gametophyte and male genotypes exhibit significant skew in paternity. Despite significant spatial genetic structure in the population, suggesting frequent inbreeding, the number of inbred and outbred sporophytes was balanced, resulting in an average fixation coefficient and population level selfing rate of zero. In line with the prediction of sporophytic inbreeding depression sporophyte size was significantly correlated with the level of heterozygosity. Furthermore, female gametophytes preferentially supported sporophytes with higher heterozygosity. These results indicate that polyandry provides the opportunity for postfertilization selection in bryophytes having short fertilization distances and spatially structured populations facilitating inbreeding. Preferential maternal support of the more heterozygous sporophytes suggests active inbreeding avoidance that may have significant implications for mating system evolution in bryophytes.