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The influence of genotype and environment on the fecundity and facultative expression of apomixis inHieracium pilosella

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The potential for sexual reproduction in the facultative apomictHieracium pilosella was determined by pollinating with the closely related but morphologically distinctH. aurantiacum. The hybrid characteristics of the sexually produced progeny were used as markers for sex. Crossing was carried out under a range of environmental treatments to test the influence of (1) field versus glasshouse conditions, (2) nutrient level and the presence of a pathogen, and (3) photoperiod on the frequency of sex in facultative apomicticH. pilosella.

We found significantly more sexual reproduction in the glasshouse than in the field for the two populations tested, but no influence of nutrient level, presence of the pathogen, or individual genotype. Photoperiod was not a significant factor for the single population tested. In several of the experiments seed production was significantly different between the treatments, despite the absence of an effect on the frequency of sex, indicating greater plasticity in this trait.

In all three experiments a positive association was found between fecundity and the frequency of sex, with crosses producing sexual progeny having significantly more offspring than those that produced progeny exclusively via apomixis. We hypothesise that the cost of sex in this species may be offset by an increase in fecundity, with the cost of meiosis “diluted” by an increase in total progeny production.

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Correspondence to Gary J. Houliston.

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Houliston, G.J., Chapman, H.M. & Bicknell, R.A. The influence of genotype and environment on the fecundity and facultative expression of apomixis inHieracium pilosella . Folia Geobot 41, 165–181 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02806477

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  • Asteraceae
  • Compositae
  • Photoperiod
  • Pilosella
  • Sexual reproduction
  • Transgenic pollen