The contribution of male-sterility mutations to inbreeding depression in Mimulus guttatus.
The magnitude of inbreeding depression can influence many aspects of a population's ecology and evolution, including the nature of selection acting on the mating system and the chances that the population will go extinct during periods of small population size. If inbreeding depression is caused primarily by recessive mutations of large effect on fitness, such as lethals or steriles, then it is expected to be purged rapidly by selection with moderate amounts of inbreeding. In contrast, inbreeding depression primarily caused by many genes with mild effects on fitness will not be rapidly purged with inbreeding, so it should be a more resilient barrier to the evolution of self-fertilization and a more significant threat to the survival of endangered species. Here I show that recessive male-sterility alleles at individual loci are common in a primarily outcrossing population of the plant Mimulus guttatus. Despite the high frequency of these major mutations, most of the inbreeding depression for male fertility and cumulative measures of lifetime fitness results from more mildly deleterious alleles. Male-sterility alleles contribute to 31% of the inbreeding depression for the fraction of viable pollen grains, and to 26% of the inbreeding depression for total fitness. These results suggest that most of the inbreeding depression for male fertility in this population would not be purged, in the short term, with moderate inbreeding.
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