Key words Tristyly
Clonal aquatic plant
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Eichhornia azurea (Pontederiaceae) is a mat-forming, clonal aquatic that inhabits lakes, marshes and river systems in many parts of the Neotropics. The species is tristylous with long-, mid-, and short-styled morphs commonly represented in natural populations. To investigate whether E. azurea possesses a trimorphic incompatibility system typical of tristylous species, we conducted a controlled pollination experiment on 15 clones representing the three style morphs from a natural population near Rosario, Argentina. Comparisons of fruit and seed set following self-, illegitimate, and legitimate pollinations clearly demonstrated the presence of trimorphic incompatibility in E. azurea. Self- and illegitimate pollinations produced significantly less fruit and seed than legitimate pollinations in all three style morphs. Pollen from the two anther levels within a flower exhibited contrasting compatibility relations in self-pollinations. In common with several other tristylous species in Pontederiaceae, the expression of self-incompatibility was weakest in the mid-styled morph and strongest in the short-styled morph. We discuss the ecological and evolutionary significance of the partial expression of trimorphic incompatibility in E. azurea.
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