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The effects of selection in the gametophyte stage on mutational load

Evolution 46(3): 703-720

The effects of selection in the gametophyte stage on mutational load

We have studied a multilocus selection model of a plant population in which mutations to deleterious alleles occur that may affect not only the diploid sporophyte stage, but also the haploid pollen stage before zygote formation. We investigated the reduction in inbreeding depression (as measured in the sporophyte) caused by the lowering of mutant allele frequencies due to selection in the pollen. This is important for a full understanding of the role of inbreeding depression in the maintenance of outcrossing in seed plants. We also studied the theoretically expected relationship between the pollen fitness of different pollen donor genotypes and the fitnesses of the diploid progeny that they sire. This relationship can be compared with the results of experiments in which pollen was subjected to selection, and improved progeny quality was observed. We found that on the mutational load model there is, as expected intuitively, a positive covariance between the pollen and zygote fitnesses, but that it is likely to be small. Subjecting pollen to an episode of strong selection is usually expected to increase sporophyte fitness only slightly.

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Accession: 002249468

DOI: 10.2307/2409639

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