Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 185–199 | Cite as

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

Original Paper


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.


Adaptive evolution Asexual reproduction Clonal plants Growth Mating system Phenology Sexual reproduction 



I thank Allison Butlen, Elizabeth Parnis, Jessica Ruvinsky, Linda Jennings, Marilyn Barker, Lawrence Janeway, Lowel Ahart, Nick Page, Nishanta Rajakaruna and Tony Labanca for collecting seeds, Anna Wojciechowska, Dorit Raudnitschka, Ines Schneider, Lena Blischke, Vanessa Pasqualetto, and Stefan Dietrich for practical assistance, Markus Fischer, two anonymous reviewers and the associated editor for helpful comments on earlier versions of the ms and the Swiss Science Foundation for support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Biochemistry and BiologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.School of Biological and Conservation SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa

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