Reproductive ecology of 21 coexisting Psychotria species (Rubiaceae): when is heterostyly lost?

Shoko Sakai, S. Joseph Wright

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Heterostyly is a genetic polymorphism in which plant populations are composed of two or more morphs that differ in stigma and anther heights. The polymorphism promotes intermorph pollen transfer, thus outcrossing. Heterostyly has been reported in 28 angiosperm families and is frequently lost in heterostylous lineages. To assess ecological factors related to shifts from heterostyly to monomorphy, we examined the reproductive ecology of heterostylous tropical shrubs of Psychotria. Among 21 species at Barro Colorado Island and the nearby Parque Nacional Soberania, Panama, 14 species were heterostylous while seven were monomorphic. A molecular phylogeny and the existence elsewhere of heterostylous populations indicated that the breakdown of heterostyly had occurred independently. Heterostylous and monomorphic species were visited by the same bee species, although visit frequencies were lower in monomorphic species. Monomorphic species had significantly lower population density and greater fruit set than did heterostylous species. Autonomous autogamy made a large contribution to fruit set in monomorphic species and was only rarely observed in heterostylous species. The results indicate monomorphic and heterostylous species produce more seeds through selfing and outcrossing, respectively. The limitation of outcrossing as a result of low population density may be related to the breakdown of heterostyly and the evolution of selfing. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 93, 125–134.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
Early online date17 Dec 2007
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008

User-Defined Keywords

  • Barro Colorado Island
  • breeding system evolution
  • Panama
  • pollination
  • rarity
  • self-fertilization
  • tropical forest


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