An investigation of self-incompatibility within the genus Restrepia

Am J Bot. 2015 Mar;102(3):487-94. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1400555. Epub 2015 Mar 13.


Premise of the study: The genus Restrepia (Orchidaceae) is indigenous to montane rain forests of Central and South America. Recently, as habitat has fragmented and wild populations dwindled, the chances for successful cross-pollination within the genus have been reduced. Since cultivated species of Restrepia have been vegetatively propagated, they remain genetically close to those in the wild, making ex situ collections of the genus useful model populations for investigating breeding systems. Restrepia are found in clade B of the Pleurothallidinae, the only clade in which self-incompatibility (SI) has not yet been confirmed. In the current study, private collections of Restrepia were used to study the operation of SI within the genus to assist future ex situ conservation of this and related genera.•

Methods: A variety of self-pollination, intraspecific, and interspecific crosses were performed across the genus, and pollen tube growth was studied.•

Key results: Individual species exhibited varying degrees of SI. Self-pollinations performed across 26 species in the genus produced few viable seeds, with the exception of R. aberrans. Viable "filled" seeds with embryos were shown to require an intraspecific cross. Primary hybrids between species produced >90% seeds with embryos that germinated well.•

Conclusions: The type of SI operating within the genus was considered to be best explained by gametophytic self-incompatibility (GSI) with interspecific variation in its phenotypic expression. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to SI in the Pleurothallidinae and conservation strategies for Restrepia and related genera.

Keywords: Orchidaceae; Pleurothallidinae; Restrepia; clade B; ex situ conservation; self-incompatibility.

MeSH terms

  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Orchidaceae / genetics
  • Orchidaceae / physiology*
  • Pollination*