Plastic breeding system response to day length in the California wildflower Mimulus douglasii.
PREMISE OF THE STUDY:Angiosperms have evolved multiple breeding systems that allow reproductive success under varied conditions. Striking among these are cleistogamous breeding systems, where individuals can produce alternative flower types specialized for distinct mating strategies. Cleistogamy is thought to be environmentally-dependent, but little is known about environmental triggers. If production of alternate flowers is environmentally induced, populations may evolve locally adapted responses. Mimulus douglasii, exhibits a cleistogamous breeding system, and ranges across temperature and day-length gradients, providing an ideal system to investigate environmental parameters that control cleistogamy. METHODS:We compared flowering responses across Mimulus douglasii population accessions that produce distinct outcrossing and self-pollinating flower morphs. Under controlled conditions, we determined time to flower, and number and type of flowers produced under different temperatures and day lengths. KEY RESULTS:Temperature and day length both affect onset of flowering. Long days shift flower type from predominantly chasmogamous to cleistogamous. The strength of the response to day length varies across accessions whether temperature varies or is held constant. CONCLUSIONS:Cleistogamy is an environmentally sensitive polyphenism in Mimulus douglasii, allowing transition from one mating strategy to another. Longer days induce flowering and production of cleistogamous flowers. Shorter days induce chasmogamous flowers. Population origin has a small effect on response to environmental cues.
Barnett, LL; Troth, A; Willis, JH
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