Environmental effects on pollen-pistil compatibility between Phlox cuspidata and P. drummondii (Polemoniaceae): Implications for hybridization dynamics
Postpollination mechanisms of reproductive isolation can critically influence the amount of gene flow between hybridizing species. While much evidence exists for genetically based pollen-pistil incompatibility, we show that environmental variation also influences the postpollination performance of heterospecific pollen in the annual Phlox hybrid system. Thus, the environmental segregation of species can influence hybridization dynamics. We found that P. cuspidata was restricted to soils of low Ca concentrations in the field and performed better under experimentally low Ca; P. drummondii was able to inhabit high-Ca soils and sometimes performed better in this environment. To determine whether soil Ca influenced pollen-pistil compatibility in a manner that alters pollen siring success, single-donor pollinations were performed in a completely factorial crossing design between species, maternal Ca environments, and paternal Ca environments. Maternal and paternal environments interacted in their effects on pollen-pistil compatibility for both inter- and intraspecific crosses, such that pollen performance was highest when mothers and fathers were grown in different soil Ca environments. These results suggest that when Phlox species predictably inhabit different environments, environmental heterogeneity can impede the processes of speciation and local adaptation by enhancing the performance of pollen dispersed across species and environments.
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