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Restricted female function of hermaphrodites in a gynodioecious shrub, Daphne jezoensis (Thymelaeaceae)

Abstract

Gynodioecy is the coexistence of hermaphrodites and females in a population. It is supposed to be an intermediate stage in the evolutionary pathway from hermaphroditism to dioecy in angiosperm. Hermaphrodites gain fitness through both seed and pollen production whereas females gain fitness only through seed production. As females spread in a gynodioecious population, sexual selection prompts hermaphrodites to invest in male function and male-biased hermaphrodites prevail. In the gynodioecious shrub Daphne jezoensis (Thymelaeaceae), female frequency is stably around 50% in most populations, and fruit-set rate of hermaphrodites is commonly low. Therefore, D. jezoensis is likely at a later stage in the evolutionary pathway. Female function of hermaphrodites (fruit-set rate, selfing rate, seed size, and germination rate) was assessed in three populations under natural conditions. In order to evaluate the potential seed fertility and inbreeding depression by selfing in hermaphrodites, hand pollination treatments were also performed. Over a 2-year period under natural conditions, 18–29% of hermaphrodites and 69–81% of females set fruit. Across all three populations, the mean fruit-set rate ranged 9.5–49.2% in females and only 3.9–10.2% in hermaphrodites. Even with artificial outcross-pollination, 59–91% of hermaphrodites failed to set any fruit. When self-pollination was performed in hermaphrodites, both of fruit-set and germination rates were decreased, indicating early-acting inbreeding depression. In addition, more than half of the hermaphrodite seeds were produced by selfing under natural pollination, but pollinator service was still required. Totally, hermaphrodites performed poorly as seed producers because of the intrinsically-low fruiting ability and a combination of autogamous selfing and strong inbreeding depression, indicating the absence of reproductive assurance. These results indicate that the mating system of D. jezoensis is functionally close to dioecy.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Y. Mizunaga, Y. Amagai, K. Onizawa, A. Wakui, S. Nakamura, and T. Kohyama for their kind assistance with fieldwork and their helpful discussions and comments. This study was partly supported by JSPS KAKENHI (15H02641).

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Correspondence to Akari Shibata.

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Shibata, A., Kameyama, Y. & Kudo, G. Restricted female function of hermaphrodites in a gynodioecious shrub, Daphne jezoensis (Thymelaeaceae). J Plant Res 131, 245–254 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-017-0978-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-017-0978-5

Keywords

  • Fruit set
  • Gynodioecy
  • Hermaphrodite
  • Pollen limitation
  • Selfing
  • Subdioecy