Evolution of selfing syndrome and its influence on genetic diversity and inbreeding: A range-wide study in Oenothera primiveris

Anita Cisternas-Fuentes*, Tania Jogesh, Geoffrey T. Broadhead, Robert A. Raguso, Krissa A. Skogen, Jeremie B. Fant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Premise: To avoid inbreeding depression, plants have evolved diverse breeding systems to favor outcrossing, such as self-incompatibility. However, changes in biotic and abiotic conditions can result in selective pressures that lead to a breakdown in self-incompatibility. The shift to increased selfing is commonly associated with reduced floral features, lower attractiveness to pollinators, and increased inbreeding. We tested the hypothesis that the loss of self-incompatibility, a shift to self-fertilization (autogamy), and concomitant evolution of the selfing syndrome (reduction in floral traits associated with cross-fertilization) will lead to increased inbreeding and population differentiation in Oenothera primiveris. Across its range, this species exhibits a shift in its breeding system and floral traits from a self-incompatible population with large flowers to self-compatible populations with smaller flowers. Methods: We conducted a breeding system assessment, evaluated floral traits in the field and under controlled conditions, and measured population genetic parameters using RADseq data. Results: Our results reveal a bimodal transition to the selfing syndrome from the west to the east of the range of O. primiveris. This shift includes variation in the breeding system and the mating system, a reduction in floral traits (flower diameter, herkogamy, and scent production), a shift to greater autogamy, reduced genetic diversity, and increased inbreeding. Conclusions: The observed variation highlights the importance of range-wide studies to understand breeding system variation and the evolution of the selfing syndrome within populations and species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)789-805
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Onagraceae
  • RADseq
  • breeding system
  • genetic diversity
  • inbreeding
  • mating system
  • self-incompatibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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