Herkogamy and Its Effects on Mating Patterns in Arabidopsis thaliana

Luo, Yonghai; Widmer, Alex
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
The evolution of mating systems, which exhibit an extraordinary diversity in flowering plants, is of central interest in plant biology. Herkogamy, the spatial separation of sexual organs within flowers, is a widespread floral mechanism that is thought to be an adaptive trait reducing self-pollination in hermaphroditic plants. In contrast with previous studies of herkogamy that focused on plants with relatively large floral displays, we here characterized herkogamy in Arabidopsis thaliana, a model plant with a strong selfing syndrome. Developmental features, reproductive consequences, and genetic architecture of herkogamy were exploited using naturally variable A. thaliana accessions, under both greenhouse and natural conditions. Our results demonstrate that the degree of herkogamy can strongly influence the mating patterns of A. thaliana: approach herkogamy can effectively promote outcrossing, no herkogamy is also capable of enhancing the opportunity for outcrossing, and reverse herkogamy facilitates efficient self-pollination. In addition, we found that the expression of herkogamy in A. thaliana was environment-dependent and regulated by multiple quantitative trait loci. This study reveals how minor modifications in floral morphology may cause dramatic changes in plant mating patterns, provides new insights into the function of herkogamy, and suggests the way for dissecting the genetic basis of this important character in a model plant.


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