Most studies of the effects of inbreeding focus on vegetative vigor and reproductive output through the female (fruit and seed) function. This study not only examines the effects of inbreeding on the female function but it also examines the effects of inbreeding on pollen performance both in vitro and in vivo. This study used Cucurbita texana, a wild gourd, and was performed under field conditions. In vivo performance was assessed by placing equal amounts of pollen from either the inbred or outcrossed plants onto a stigma together with pollen from a tester line. As with other studies, we found that outcrossed plants had greater reproductive output (male flowers and fruits) than plants produced from self pollinations. Unlike most studies of inbreeding depression, which mostly ignore the male function of plants, we also found that the pollen produced by outcrossed plants had faster pollen tube growth in vitro than the pollen produced on selfed plants. Moreover, pollen from selfed plants sired significantly fewer seeds than pollen from outcrossed plants under conditions of pollen competition (i.e. the number of pollen grains deposited onto the stigmas was larger than the number of available ovules). These findings indicate that inbreeding affects the performance of the resulting sporophytic generation and the microgametophytes they produce.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics