Silene vulgaris is a gynodioecious plant native to Eurasia and now found throughout much of North America. Using hermaphrodite plants from three geographic regions (Stamford, NY; Broadway,VA; and Giles Co., VA) and four local populations within each region, we employed a hierarchical crossing design to explore the geographic structure of sex determining genes. Sex determination in this species is cytonuclear involving multiple cytoplasmic male sterility and nuclear restorer loci. Due to dominance effects within nuclear restorer loci, self-fertilization of hermaphrodites heterozygous at restorer loci should produce some homozygous recessive female offspring. Female offspring may also result from outcrossing among related individuals. At greater geographic and genetic distances, mismatches between cytoplasmic and nuclear sex determining genes should also produce high frequencies of female offspring if coevolution between cytoplasmic and nuclear sex determining alleles occurs independently among widely separated populations. We found evidence of dominance effects among nuclear restorer loci but no evidence of nuclear-cytoplasmic mismatches at the regional level. Of 63 maternal lines, 55 produced at least one female offspring when self-fertilized. Outcrossing within populations produced significantly fewer female offspring than self-fertilization. Outcrossing among regions produced the lowest proportion of female offspring, significantly fewer than outcrossing among populations within regions. Regions responded differently to among-region outcrossing with pollen donors from the two Virginia regions producing far fewer female offspring with New York dams than crosses among New York populations. These results indicate that nuclear restoration is complex, involving multiple loci with epistatic interactions and that most hermaphrodites in nature are heterozygous at one or more restorer locus. Further, regional differences in restorer frequencies indicate significant genetic structure for sex determining genes at large geographic scales, perhaps reflecting invasion history.
Vol. 59 • No. 2
Vol. 59 • No. 2