Allogamy-Autogamy Switch Enhance Assortative Mating in the Allotetraploid Centaurea seridis L. Coexisting with the Diploid Centaurea aspera L. and Triggers the Asymmetrical Formation of Triploid Hybrids.

Autores UPV
Revista PLoS ONE


Hybridization between tetraploids and its related diploids is generally unsuccessful in Centaurea, hence natural formation of triploid hybrids is rare. In contrast, the diploid Centaurea aspera and the allotetraploid C. seridis coexist in several contact zones where a high frequency of triploid hybrids is found. We analyzed the floral biology of the three taxa to identify reproductive isolation mechanisms that allow their coexistence. Flowering phenology was recorded, and controlled pollinations within and between the three taxa were performed in the field. Ploidy level and germination of progeny were also assessed. There was a 50% flowering overlap which indicated a phenological shift. Diploids were strictly allogamous and did not display mentor effects, while tetraploids were found to be highly autogamous. This breakdown of self-incompatibility by polyploids is first described in Centaurea. The asymmetrical formation of the hybrid was also found: all the triploid intact cypselae came from the diploid mothers pollinated by the pollen of tetraploids. Pollen and eggs from triploids were totally sterile, acting as a strong triploid block. These prezygotic isolation mechanisms ensured higher assortative mating in tetraploids than in diploids, improving its persistence in the contact zones. However these mechanisms can also be the cause of the low genetic diversity and high genetic structure observed in C. seridis.