Self-fertilization in mosses: a comparison of heterozygote deficiency between species with combined versus separate sexes

Heredity (Edinb). 2007 Jan;98(1):38-44. doi: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800900. Epub 2006 Sep 27.


Self-fertilization is a key difference of adaptive significance between species with combined versus separate sexes. In haploid-dominant species such as mosses and ferns, species with either combined or separate sexes (monoicous and dioicous, respectively) have the potential to self-fertilize (intergametophytic selfing), but being monoicous allows an additional mode of selfing (intragametophytic selfing). We used allozyme electrophoresis to estimate deviations from expected levels of heterozygosity under Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium to infer selfing rates in 10 moss species from 36 New Zealand populations. We found that while there were deficiencies of heterozygotes compared to expectation in both monoicous and dioicous mosses, monoicous species had significantly higher levels of heterozygote deficiency than dioicous species (F(IS)=0.89+/-0.12 and 0.41+/-0.11, respectively). Estimated selfing rates suggest that selfing occurs frequently in monoicous populations, and rarely in dioicous populations. However, in two dioicous species (Polytrichadelphus magellanicus and Breutelia pendula), we found significant indications of mixed mating or biparental inbreeding in a handful of populations. These data provide the first analysis of heterozygote deficiency and selfing among haploid-dominant species with breeding system variation, and we discuss our results with respect to the consequences of inbreeding depression and the evolution of breeding systems.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bryophyta / physiology*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Heterozygote
  • Inbreeding*
  • Magnoliopsida / genetics*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Sex*