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The role of hybridization in the evolution of sexual system diversity in a clonal, aquatic plant.
The stable coexistence within populations of females, males, and hermaphrodites (subdioecy) is enigmatic because theoretical models indicate that maintenance of this sexual system involves highly restricted conditions. Subdioecy is more commonly interpreted as a transitory stage along the gynodioecious pathway from hermaphroditism to dioecy. The widespread, North American, aquatic plant Sagittaria latifolia is largely composed of monoecious or dioecious populations; however, subdioecious populations with high frequencies of hermaphrodites (mean frequency = 0.50) characterize the northern range boundary of dioecy in eastern North America. We investigated two hypotheses for the origin of subdioecy in this region. Using polymorphic microsatellite loci, we evaluated whether subdioecy arises through selection on standing genetic variation for male sex inconstancy in dioecious populations, or results from hybridization between monoecious and dioecious populations. We found evidence for both pathways to subdioecy, although hybridization was the more common mechanism, with genetic evidence of admixture in nine of 14 subdioecious populations examined. Hybridization has also played a role in the origin of androdioecious populations in S. latifolia, a mechanism not often considered in the evolution of this rare sexual system. Our study demonstrates how hybridization has the potential to play a role in the diversification of plant sexual systems.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B2, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org. Current Address: Department of Biology, Queen's University, 116 Barrie Street, Kingston, Ontario, K7L 3N6, Canada. email@example.com.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B2, Canada.
Pub Type(s)Journal Article