The role of lateral and vertical herkogamy in the divergence of the blue- and red-flowered lineages of Lysimachia arvensis

Ann Bot. 2020 Jun 1;125(7):1127-1135. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcaa047.


Background and aims: Herkogamy, or anther-stigma separation, is known to reduce self-pollen deposition, but little is known about the relative efficacy of different modes or conformations of herkogamy. We assessed the effectiveness of vertical versus lateral herkogamy in preventing or promoting self-pollen deposition in the annual herb Lysimachia arvensis, a plant with lineages that differ in flower colour, and in which flowers first display lateral and then vertical herkogamy. Because mating between the two lineages compromises fitness through the production of low-quality hybrid offspring, we tested the prediction that individuals sampled from sites occupied by both lineages should have flowers that promote autonomous self-pollen deposition and self-fertilization as a result of selection to reduce deleterious reproductive interference.

Methods: We characterized variation in herkogamy within and among 25 pure and mixed populations of L. arvensis in its European range and assessed the effectiveness of lateral versus vertical herkogamy in avoiding self-pollen deposition.

Results: Lateral herkogamy was more effective than vertical herkogamy in limiting self-pollen deposition. In the case of vertical herkogamy, only approach herkogamy was effective. Lineages showed consistent differences in herkogamy traits. In general, angles were smaller for blue than red flowers in most populations, and blue flowers showed approach herkogamy, while red flowers showed predominantly reverse herkogamy. In sympatry, the red lineage showed a reduction of both herkogamy traits while for the blue lineage only lateral herkogamy was reduced.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that pollen deposition is affected not only by the degree but also the spatial conformation of herkogamy. They also highlight reduced herkogamy as a potential mechanism for promoting reproductive assurance under pollen limitation, as well as for avoiding reproductive interference between genetically divergent lineages.

Keywords: Anagallis; Lysimachia; colour polymorphism; herkogamy; mating system; reproductive assurance; reproductive isolation; self-pollen deposition; selfing evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Color
  • Flowers*
  • Pollen
  • Pollination
  • Primulaceae*
  • Reproduction
  • Self-Fertilization