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Pollen Loads and Progeny Vigor in Cucurbita pepo: The Next Generation

Carl D. Schlichting, Andrew G. Stephenson, Leslie E. Small and James A. Winsor
Evolution
Vol. 44, No. 5 (Aug., 1990), pp. 1358-1372
DOI: 10.2307/2409295
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409295
Page Count: 15
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Pollen Loads and Progeny Vigor in Cucurbita pepo: The Next Generation
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Abstract

Previous research on the Black Beauty bush cv. of zucchini has documented a strong positive relationship between the size of the pollen load and the vigor (performance) of the progeny. Here we report the results of three studies designed to test the hypothesis that the previously observed differences in progeny vigor are heritable. Two studies examined the transmission of the pollen load effect to subsequent generations through the ovules (female role). The third study determined if there is genetic variation for pollen performance and if the pollen load effect could be transmitted to a subsequent generation through the pollen (male role). In each of these studies the vigor of the progeny from the subsequent generation was evaluated in the greenhouse and/or the field. The results of these studies reveal (1) that the ability to sire seeds does respond to selection imposed by high pollen loads, (2) that only 23 of the 35 total traits that we measured in the three studies of transmission to subsequent generations changed in the direction predicted by the pollen competition hypothesis, (3) that only 5 of the 35 traits were significantly affected by the size of the pollen load that produced the previous generation (but all 5 were in the direction predicted by the pollen competition hypothesis), and (4) that only one study produced an overall significant difference (MANOVA) attributable to the size of the pollen load that produced the previous generation (but it too was in the direction predicted by the pollen competition hypothesis). From these experiments we conclude that pollen competition appears to play a real but minor role in the production of differences in vigor between progeny arising from low versus high pollen loads. In Black Beauty bush cv. of zucchini, maternal effects, pollen-pistil interactions, or nonrandom patterns of seed abortion must play important roles as well.

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