Effects of self-, chase and mixed self/cross-pollinations on pistil longevity and fruit set in Ceiba species (Bombacaceae) with late-acting self-incompatibility
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Background and aims Late-acting self-incompatibility (LSI). in which selfed flowers fail to form fruits despite apparently successful growth of the pollen tubes to the ovules, is a contentious and still poorly understood phenomenon. Some studies have indicated pollen tube-pistil interactions, and major gene control. Others favour an early acting inbreeding depression explanation.Methods Experimental pollinations, including selfs (in a subsample of which the style was cut before pollen tubes reached the ovary), chase self/cross-pollinations, crosses, and mixed self/cross-pollinations were used to study floral/pistil longevity and effect on fruit set and seed yield in two Ceiba species known to have LSI.Results Self-pollinations, including those with a cut style, had extended floral longevity compared with unpollinated flowers. Chase pollinations in which cross-pollen was applied up to 3 h after selfing set fruits, but with reduced seed set compared with crosses. Those with cross-pollen applied at 4 and 8 h after self-pollination all failed to set fruits. Flowers subjected to 1 : 1 and 2 : 1 self/cross-pollinations all produced fruits but again with a significantly lower seed set compared with crosses.Conclusions Extended floral longevity initiated with self-pollen tubes growing in the style indicates some kind of pollen tube-pistil interaction. Fruit set only in chase pollinations up to 3 h implies that self-pollen tubes either grow more slowly in the style or penetrate ovules more slowly on arrival at the ovary compared with cross-tubes. This agrees with previous observations indicating that the incidence of penetrated ovules is initially lower in selfed compared with crossed pistils. However, the low seed yield from mixed pollinations indicates that self- and cross-pollen tubes arrive at the ovary and penetrate ovules more or less simultaneously. Possible explanations for these discordant results are discussed. (C) 2004 Annals of Botany Company.