Effects of herkogamy and inbreeding on the mating system of Mimulus luteus in the absence of pollinators

Gastón O. Carvallo, Rodrigo Medel

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11 Scopus citations


Self-pollination mechanisms are often invoked to explain plant reproduction in environments devoid of pollinators. However, populations may evolve a diverse variety of strategies depending on the ecological context of pollination. In this study we examined the pollination environment, inbreeding depression, and herkogamy of Mimulus luteus (Phrymaceae) in two consecutive years in an attempt to evaluate the extent to which these factors determine the current level of autogamy in this population. Results indicate that pollinators were almost absent in the study site in 2005 and 2006. Likewise, no evidence of significant inbreeding depression for seed production and seed germination was detected in the 2 years. Because M. luteus presents hermaphrodite flowers with 'movement herkogamy' (touch-sensitive stigmata that close upon contact), and anther-stigma separation, we evaluated the role of these traits in self-fertilization. First, we assessed the effects of pollen source (self- and xenogamous pollen, and control solution) on stigmata dynamics after pollen deposition, and seed production. We observed that stigmata that received pollen (self- and xenogamous hand-pollinated) remained closed for a longer time than flowers that received no pollen (control flowers). Seed production, however, was unaffected by pollen source, indicating that movement herkogamy does not prevent self-fertilization in this population. Second, a phenotypic selection analysis revealed that seed production increased with a reduction of anther-stigma separation in absence of pollinators (bagged flowers), suggesting that low herkogamy levels are promoted in this population. Our results indicate that lack of inbreeding depression, ineffective movement herkogamy, and selection against anther-stigma separation are factors that may contribute to the prevalence of autogamous reproductive mechanisms when M. luteus faces environments with scarce mating opportunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-522
Number of pages14
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Chile
  • Inbreeding depression
  • Monkey flower
  • Phenotypic selection
  • Selfing
  • Stigma behavior


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