The effects of quantitative fecundity in the haploid stage on reproductive success and diploid fitness in the aquatic peat moss Sphagnum macrophyllum.
A major question in evolutionary biology is how mating patterns affect the fitness of offspring. However, in animals and seed plants it is virtually impossible to investigate the effects of specific gamete genotypes. In bryophytes, haploid gametophytes grow via clonal propagation and produce millions of genetically identical gametes throughout a population. The main goal of this research was to test whether gamete identity has an effect on the fitness of their diploid offspring in a population of the aquatic peat moss Sphagnum macrophyllum. We observed a heavily male-biased sex ratio in gametophyte plants (ramets) and in multilocus microsatellite genotypes (genets). There was a steeper relationship between mating success (number of different haploid mates) and fecundity (number of diploid offspring) for male genets compared with female genets. At the sporophyte level, we observed a weak effect of inbreeding on offspring fitness, but no effect of brood size (number of sporophytes per maternal ramet). Instead, the identities of the haploid male and haploid female parents were significant contributors to variance in fitness of sporophyte offspring in the population. Our results suggest that intrasexual gametophyte/gamete competition may play a role in determining mating success in this population.
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