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Gametophyte Ontogeny, Sex Expression, and Genetic Load as Measures of Population Divergence in Blechnum spicant

Michael I. Cousens
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 66, No. 2 (Feb., 1979), pp. 116-132
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2442514
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Gametophyte Ontogeny, Sex Expression, and Genetic Load as Measures of Population Divergence in Blechnum spicant
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Abstract

Early gametophyte ontogeny was quantitatively distinct for Olympic Peninsula, Alaskan, and disjunct Idaho populations of the homosporous fern Blechnum spicant (L.) J. Sm. Although variable, gametophyte sex expression was shown to have a genetic component Statistically different patterns of sex expression characterize each population The Olympic Peninsula populations were distinct from each other but consistent in having a predominantly unisexual pattern. The disjunct Idaho population was predominantly bisexual at the time when comparable field collected gametophytes bear sporophytes. Preliminary experiments suggest that an antheridogen operates in this species. Increased sowing density favors maleness, and an extract from soil cultures of gametophytes shifts cultures to an exclusively male pattern after a dramatic suppression of growth. Mating experiments revealed that all populations are interfertile, although fertility was highest when the test Idaho population underwent intergametophytic-selfing. The Idaho population evidenced a low level of genetic load consistent with predictions based on its sex expression. Although Olympic Peninsula populations evidenced apparent high genetic load in some experiments, failure to produce abundant sporophytes in other experiments suggested that additional cultural factors operated to reduce sporophyte formation. Moderate density mating experiments produced single sporophytes that were comparable to field collections. Isolated gametophytes underwent polyembryony after a time delay and gametophyte proliferation Cultural conditions which allow sporophyte formation on isolated gametophytes without this delay or proliferation must be sought before further genetic analysis is undertaken.

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