Mating system contributes only slightly to female maintenance in gynodioecious Geranium maculatum (Geraniaceae)

M. L. Van Etten, A. C. Deen, J. L. Hamrick, S. M. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Gynodioecy, the co-occurrence of female and hermaphroditic individuals within a population, is an important intermediate in the evolution of separate sexes. The first step, female maintenance, requires females to have higher seed fitness compared with hermaphrodites. A common mechanism thought to increase relative female fitness is inbreeding depression avoidance, the magnitude of which depends on hermaphroditic selfing rates and the strength of inbreeding depression. Less well studied is the effect of biparental inbreeding on female fitness. Biparental inbreeding can affect relative female fitness only if its consequence or frequency differs between sexes, which could occur if sex structure and genetic structure both occur within populations. To determine whether inbreeding avoidance and/or biparental inbreeding can account for female persistence in Geranium maculatum, we measured selfing and biparental inbreeding rates in four populations and the spatial genetic structure in six populations. Selfing rates of hermaphrodites were low and did not differ significantly from zero in any population, leading to females gaining at most a 1-14% increase in seed fitness from inbreeding avoidance. Additionally, although significant spatial genetic structure was found in all populations, biparental inbreeding rates were low and only differed between sexes in one population, thereby having little influence on female fitness. A review of the literature revealed few sexual differences in biparental inbreeding among other gynodioecious species. Our results show that mating system differences may not fully account for female maintenance in this species, suggesting other mechanisms may be involved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-470
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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