Theory for the evolution of modifiers of the rate of mutation suggests that a lower rate of mutation may evolve after the breakdown of mechanisms that enforce outcrossing. Mutation accumulation (MA) experiments were conducted to compare deleterious mutation parameters in two closely related species of the plant genus Amsinckia, a group that exhibits wide variation in the mating system. One of the two species studied (A. douglasiana) is predominantly outcrossed in natural populations, where as the other species (A. gloriosa) is predominantly self-pollinated. Progeny assays of flower number per plant from generation 1 lines (control) and generation 11 lines (MA treatment) were conducted in both species. Dry weight measurements of progeny from the control and MA treatment in A. douglasiana also were made. Estimation of mutation parameters was conducted using maximum likelihood under the assumption of a gamma distribution of mutational effects. The two species exhibited similar rates and effects of deleterious mutation affecting flower number. Estimates of mutation rate for dry weight in A. douglasiana are close to those for flower number. Overall, the estimates of mutation parameters observed in these species are intermediate within the range reported for fitness components in other eukaryotes. The results are discussed within the context of evolutionary change in deleterious mutation accompanying mating system evolution and with respect to previous estimates of mutation parameters based on assays of inbreeding depression and the assumption of mutation-selection equilibrium.
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Vol. 59 • No. 11