, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 185-199
Date: 10 Aug 2006

Adaptive genetic differentiation in life-history traits between populations of Mimulus guttatus with annual and perennial life-cycles

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The optimal allocation to sexual and vegetative reproduction as well as the optimal values of other life-history characteristics such as phenology, growth and mating system are likely to depend on the life-cycle of the organism. I tested whether plants of Mimulus guttatus originating from temporarily wet populations where the species has an enforced annual life-cycle have higher allocation to sexual reproduction, lower allocation to vegetative reproduction, more rapid phenology, faster growth, and floral traits associated with a self-fertilizing mating system than plants from permanently wet populations where the species has a perennial life-cycle. I grew a total of 1377 plants originating from three populations with an annual life-cycle and 11 populations with a perennial life-cycle in a greenhouse under permanently and temporarily wet conditions. Plants of M. guttatus in permanently wet conditions had significantly more vegetative reproduction and tended to have a faster growth than plants in the temporarily wet conditions, indicating plasticity in these life-history traits. Plants from populations with an annual life-cycle invested significantly more in sexual reproduction and significantly less in vegetative reproduction than the ones from populations with a perennial life-cycle. Moreover, this study showed that plants originating from populations with an annual life-cycle have a significantly faster development and floral traits associated with autonomous self-fertilization. In conclusion, this study suggests that there has been adaptive evolution of life history traits of M. guttatus in response to natural watering conditions that determine the life span of the species.