Species with mixed mating systems often demonstrate variable expression of breeding system characteristics and thus represent the opportunity to understand the factors and mechanisms that promote both outcrossed and selfed seed production. Here, we investigate variation in levels of herkogamy (variation in stigma-anther separation distance) in a Puerto Rican population of hummingbird pollinated Gesneria citrina Urban. There is significant variation in herkogamy levels among individuals of this species and stigma-anther separation is negatively associated with the ability to set fruits and seeds in the absence of pollinators. The variation in levels of herkogamy may represent a mechanism to ensure the production of some self-fertilized progeny in the absence of hummingbird pollinators. We also describe a novel breeding system in G. citrina, where stamens elongate over time to reach stigma height, but stamen elongation is accelerated by pollination. These results suggest that once the flowers are pollinated, stamen elongation may favor increased pollen removal and siring success, while the reduction in stigma-anther distance no longer imposes the risk of interference between male and female functions. We discuss our findings of breeding system variation in the context of pollination system evolution in an island setting (Antillean islands).
Potential autonomous selfing in Gesneria citrina (Gesneriaceae), a specialized hummingbird pollinated species with variable expression of herkogamy
Publication: Journal of Integrative Plant Biology