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Reproductive strategies in some arcticSaxifraga(Saxifragaceae), with emphasis on the narrow endemicS. svalbardensisand its parental species

Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Wiley Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1006/bojl.2001.0450
  • Clonal Plants – Fertility – Polyploidy – P/O Ratios – Seed Set – Self-Pollination.


Abstract Arctic saxifrages show conspicuous reproductive and chromosomal variation. We examined sexual and asexual traits in 43 phytotron-cultivated Svalbard populations of nine species, including the endemic, supposedly entirely asexual and aneupolyploid S. svalbardensis and its parental species, S. cernua and S. rivularis. All species were self-compatible hermaphrodites with low pollen/ovule ratios, including the strongly protandrous S. cernua, which previously has been reported as self-incompatible with an androdioecious mating system. Spontaneous selfing resulted in considerable seed set in several species and a few seeds in S. svalbardensis and S. cernua; hand-selfing and cross-pollination often increased seed set in the two latter species. Self-fertilized seeds of S. svalbardensis and S. cernua were viable and developed into normal, vigorous plants. Saxifraga rivularis and its close relative S. hyperborea were strongly autogamous. The bulbil-reproducing S. svalbardensis and S. cernua showed extreme variation in fertility, probably because of frequent aneuploidy. Many plants of S. cernua were fully fertile, suggesting that although natural seed set rarely has been observed, sexual reproduction is frequent enough to maintain its previously reported high levels of clonal diversity. Some plants of S. svalbardensis were also fairly fertile. This species may have considerable evolutionary potential; sexual events can lead to increasingly fertile genets with euploid chromosome numbers.

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