Cryptic self-incompatibility and distyly in Hedyotis acutangula Champ. (Rubiaceae).Plant Biol (Stuttg) 2010; 12(3):484-94PB
Distyly, floral polymorphism frequently associated with reciprocal herkogamy, self- and intramorph incompatibility and secondary dimorphism, constitutes an important sexual system in the Rubiaceae. Here we report an unusual kind of distyly associated with self- and/or intramorph compatibility in a perennial herb, Hedyotis acutangula. Floral morphology, ancillary dimorphisms and compatibility of the two morphs were studied. H. acutangula did not exhibit precise reciprocal herkogamy, but this did not affect the equality of floral morphs in the population, as usually found in distylous plants. Both pin and thrum pollen retained relatively high viability for 8 h. The pollen to ovule ratio was 72.5 in pin flowers and 54.4 in thrum flowers. Pistils of pin flowers remained receptive for longer than those of thrum flowers. No apparent difference in the germination rate of pin and thrum pollen grains was observed when cultured in vitro, although growth of thrum pollen tubes was much faster than that of pin pollen tubes. Artificial pollination revealed that pollen tube growth in legitimate intermorph crosses was faster than in either intramorph crosses or self-pollination, suggesting the occurrence of cryptic self-incompatibility in this species. Cryptic self-incompatibility functioned differently in the two morphs, with pollen tube growth rates after legitimate and illegitimate pollination much more highly differentiated in pin flowers than in thrum flowers. No fruit was produced in emasculated netted flowers, suggesting the absence of apomixis. Our results indicate that H. acutangula is distylous, with a cryptic self-incompatibility breeding system.