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Seed weight and seed number affect subsequent fitness in outcrossing and selfing Primula species

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Adrian Richards


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Using the outcrossing Primula farinosa and its autogamous selfing relatives P. scotica, P. scandinavica and P. stricta, we compared the fitness of light and heavy seeds. Heavy seeds germinated in greater numbers and more quickly. In competition with seedlings grown from lighter seeds, heavy seeds produced larger rosettes. In P. farinosa such seedlings went on to produce more seeds, and in two populations heavier seeds, than plants from lighter seeds. After transplantation to natural populations, seedlings of P. farinosa derived from heavy seeds produced larger rosettes, more flowers and seeds than those from lighter seeds in certain populations so that seedlings born of heavy seeds were much fitter than seedlings from lighter seeds. Average seed weight varied in inverse proportion to seed number per capsule. The autogamous species produced on average about twice as many seeds per capsule as P. farinosa. In P. scotica and P. stricta this difference appears to be due in part to assured fertilization, but this high fecundity did not cause disadvantageously light seeds. As these species produced fewer capsules per scape, their overall seed production was on average no greater than for P. farinosa. P. farinosa traded-off fitness between capsules with large seed numbers, which donated more offspring to the next generation, and those with small seed numbers, whose heavy seeds would be more likely to reproduce themselves in the next generation. We conclude that low fecundity in outcrossing species might at times be advantageous.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tremayne MA, Richards AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: New Phytologist

Year: 2000

Volume: 148

Issue: 1

Pages: 127-142

ISSN (print): 0028-646X

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8137

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1046/j.1469-8137.2000.00738.x


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