Incest versus abstinence: Reproductive trade-offs between mate limitation and progeny fitness in a self-incompatible invasive plant Academic Article uri icon


  • Plant mating systems represent an evolutionary and ecological trade-off between reproductive assurance through selfing and maximizing progeny fitness through outbreeding. However, many plants with sporophytic self-incompatibility systems exhibit dominance interactions at the S-locus that allow biparental inbreeding, thereby facilitating mating between individuals that share alleles at the S-locus. We investigated this trade-off by estimating mate availability and biparental inbreeding depression in wild radish from five different populations across Australia. We found dominance interactions among S-alleles increased mate availability relative to estimates based on individuals that did not share S-alleles. Twelve of the sixteen fitness variables were significantly reduced by inbreeding. For all the three life-history phases evaluated, self-fertilized offspring suffered a greater than 50% reduction in fitness, while full-sib and half-sib offspring suffered a less than 50% reduction in fitness. Theory indicates that fitness costs greater than 50% can result in an evolutionary trajectory toward a stable state of self-incompatibility (SI). This study suggests that dominance interactions at the S-locus provide a possible third stable state between SI and SC where biparental inbreeding increases mate availability with relatively minor fitness costs. This strategy allows weeds to establish in new environments while maintaining a functional SI system.

publication date

  • 2013