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      Dynamics of apomictic and sexual reproduction during primary succession on a glacier forefield in the Swiss Alps

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          Abstract

          Apomixis, the asexual reproduction through seeds, is thought to provide reproductive assurance when ploidy is not even and/or when population density is low. Therefore, apomicts are expected to be more abundant, and the frequency of apomictic offspring higher, at early stages of primary succession when mates are rare. To test this hypothesis, we sampled facultative apomictic Hieracium pilosella L. along the successional gradient on a glacier forefield and determined their ploidy, the level of apomixis in their offspring, and the genetic diversity of the entire meta-population and within subpopulations. We found that apomixis is more common in odd- and aneuploid cytotypes, which are more frequent at early stages of primary succession. However, apomixis was uncommon at all successional stages and sexual hexaploids were dominating throughout. Reproductive assurance was reflected in the higher fertility of all odd-ploid apomictic plants (3×, 5×) by avoiding meiosis, illustrating that apomixis provides an escape from sterility, as proposed by Darlington. Odd-ploid plants are supposedly better colonizers (Baker’s law), which is supported by their higher occurrence close to the glacier snout. Independent of succession, we found gene flow between apomicts and sexuals, which allows for the continuous creation of new apomictic and sexual genotypes. We conclude that apomixis in H. pilosella does indeed provide an escape from sterility, and therefore reproductive assurance, in aneuploid cytotypes. We further propose that apomixis preserves beneficial combinations of unlinked alleles in every generation for as long as apomictic genotypes persist in the population.

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          Most cited references 41

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          THE RELATION OF RECOMBINATION TO MUTATIONAL ADVANCE.

           J. Müller (1964)
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            Some Genetic Aspects of Sex

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              Self Fertilization and Population Variability in the Higher Plants

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                grossnik@botinst.uzh.ch
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                19 May 2020
                19 May 2020
                2020
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0650, GRID grid.7400.3, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology & Zurich-Basel Plant Science Centre, University of Zurich, ; Zollikerstrasse 107, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0642, GRID grid.6612.3, Institute of Botany & Zurich-Basel Plant Science Centre, University of Basel, ; Schönbeinstrasse 6, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2156 2780, GRID grid.5801.c, Present Address: Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zurich, ; Zurich, Switzerland
                Article
                64367
                10.1038/s41598-020-64367-9
                7237654
                32427828
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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                © The Author(s) 2020

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                plant ecology, plant reproduction

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