Background and aims: Capsella is a model genus for studying the transition from outcrossing to selfing, with or without change in ploidy levels. The genomic consequences and changes in reproductive traits (selfing syndrome) associated with these shifts have been studied in depth. However, potential ecological divergence among species of the genus has not been determined. Among ecological traits, competitive ability could be relevant for selfing evolution, as selfing has been shown to be statistically associated with reduced competitiveness in a recent meta-analysis.
Methods: We assessed the effect of competition on three Capsella species differing in their mating system and ploidy level. We used an experimental design where fitness related traits were measured in focal individuals with and without competitors.
Key results: The diploid selfer (C. rubella) was most sensitive to competition, whereas the tetraploid selfer (C. bursa-pastoris) performed the best, with the diploid outcrosser (C. grandiflora) being intermediate.
Conclusions: These results add to the detailed characterization of Capsella species and highlight the possible roles of ecological context and ploidy in the evolutionary trajectories of selfing species.