Paternal effects on seed germination: a barrier to the genetic assimilation of an endemic plant taxon?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We used a crossing experiment to investigate post-zygotic barriers that might limit introgression between a pair of closely-related, gynodioecious plant species - the widespread weed Silene vulgaris and the local Swedish endemic S. uniflora ssp. petraea. The study not only considered the effects of hybridization on conventionally-used (primary) fitness components such as seed set and progeny survival, but also provided a test for the effects of interspecific hybridization on characters with more subtle or habitat-specific effects on fitness. We detected highly significant paternal effects on seed germination properties, with the germination characteristics of hybrid seed resembling those of the species that served as the pollen donor. These paternal effects on germination represent a potentially strong barrier to interspecific introgression in the two species' natural habitats, where an inappropriate germination response in the habitat of the maternal parent may lead to the failure of seedling establishment. Interspecific crosses had weak or variable effects on progeny survival, flowering and sex ratio, but these effects could not be interpreted in terms of barriers to introgression. Our results indicate that nuclear restorers in S. vulgaris have the capacity to suppress cytoplasmic male-sterility genes in its endemic congener.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • cytonuclear interaction, germination, gynodioecy, hybridization, introgression, local adaptation, paternal effect, post-zygotic barrier, sex ratio bias, Silene
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1408-1417
JournalJournal of evolutionary biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch