Inbreeding depression is a major selective force favoring outcrossing in flowering plants. However, some self- fertilization should weaken the harmful effects of inbreeding by exposing deleterious alleles to selection. This study examines the maintenance of inbreeding depression in the predominantly outcrossing species Pinus sylvestris L. (Scots pine). Open-pollinated and self-fertilized progeny of 23 maternal trees, originating from a natural stand in southern Finland, were grown at two sites. We observed significant inbreeding depression in two of the four life stages measured. Inbreeding depression was largest for seed maturation (delta = 0.74), where seedset in open-pollinated strobili (70.9%) was about four times higher than in selfed strobili (18.3%). Inbreeding depression in postgermination survival (upto an age of 23 years) was also high (delta = 0.62-0.75). No significant differences in height (delta = 0.05) or flowering (delta = 0.14) of the trees after 23 years were observed. Cumulative inbreeding depression was high (delta = 0.90-0.94) and differed significantly among maternal families (range 0.45-1.00). The magnitude of inbreeding depression among the 23 maternal parents was not significantly correlated between early (seed maturation) and later (postgermination survival) life stages, suggesting that its genetic basis varies across the life cycle. Size differences among the progeny types diminished in time due to nonrandom size-specific mortality, causing a decrease in the inbreeding depression estimates for height over time. Our results indicate that Scots pine exhibits high levels of inbreeding depression during both early and later stages of the Life cycle. It is argued that self-fertilization in Scots pine is inefficient in purging the genetic load caused by highly deleterious mutations because of the nearly complete loss of selfed individuals over time. This results in an effectively random mating outcrossing population. [KEYWORDS: deleterious alleles; inbreeding depression; purging recessive mutations; selective interference; self-fertilization; size-specific mortality Self-fertilization; outcrossing rates; lethal mutations; genetic-basis; evolution; plants; populations; fitness; coevolution; selection]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-768
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999

ID: 76627