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Sexual reproduction in the cork oak (Quercus suber L). II. Crossing intra- and interspecific barriers


Intraspecific barriers promote outcrossing while interspecific mechanisms may contribute to the isolation of species; both control the exchange of genes between plants. In this paper we establish that post-pollination mechanisms promote outcross and act at different temporal and spatial levels to control seed set and quality in Quercus species. Controlled pollinations were performed to investigate intraspecific crossing barriers in Q. suber and pollen-pistil interactions following interspecific pollinations with some simpatric Quercus species. Cytological data of intraspecific crosses in Q. suber and Q. ilex have shown different kinetics on pollen tube growth after self and outcross pollination, but pollen tubes were able to reach the base of the styles in both species and seed set was successful. Although some pre-zygotic interaction is occurring at the style, the most important interaction takes place at ovary. The cross between Q. ilex and Q. suber is possible only in one direction, revealing a case of unilateral incongruity. We show that the lack of seed set observed in the cross Q. suber×Q. ilex is due to the inability of pollen tubes to penetrate the transmitting tissue after germination. With Q. suber mainly as female parent, pollinations with other simpatric Quercus species have shown different levels of constraint on pollen tube progression at stigma and style levels. Eventual hybridisation between Quercus species will depend on the compatibility of pollen-pistil interactions, on the competitive ability of pollen genotypes, and, most important, on the overlapping of geographical, phenological and ecological factors. Differences in seed set and seed allocation was evident in all crosses, and was particularly outstanding in interspecific and in self intraspecific crosses, determining the ultimate level of seed production and quality in Quercus species.

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Received: 4 April 2001 / Accepted: 8 May 2001

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Boavida, L., Silva, J. & Feijó, J. Sexual reproduction in the cork oak (Quercus suber L). II. Crossing intra- and interspecific barriers. Sex Plant Reprod 14, 143–152 (2001).

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  • Keywords  Quercus
  • Intraspecific
  • Interspecific crosses
  • Unilateral incongruity
  • Hybridisation
  • Early-acting inbreeding depression