Early-acting inbreeding depression in three species of Vaccinium (Ericaceae)
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Greenhouse pollinations were performed to determine whether early-acting inbreeding depression is contributing to low levels of self-fertility in three Vaccinium species: V. myrtilloides Michaux, V. angustifolium Aiton, and V. corymbosum L. All three species showed a significant reduction in self fruit set and in the proportion of fertilized ovules that developed into mature seed in self compared to outcross fruit. Reductions were more severe in V. myrtilloides and V. angustifolium than in V. corymbosum; however, early-acting inbreeding depression appeared to be the primary factor limiting self-fertility in all three species. Evidence for early- acting inbreeding depression included the presence and higher proportion of aborted ovules in self fruit than in outcross fruit, a correlation between levels of self and outcross seed set, and pollen chase experiments demonstrating that self-pollen does fertilize the ovules. Self-fertility in the three species was probably influenced by levels of genetic load, ploidy level and outcrossing rates.
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