In North American Lycium (Solanaceae), the evolution of gender dimorphism has been proposed as a means of restoring outcrossing after polyploidization causes the loss of self-incompatibility. Previous studies of this process in Lycium focused on comparisons between species that differ in ploidy. We examined intraspecific variation in floral morphology and DNA content in populations of L. californicum to determine correlations between sexual system and cytotype. We also used nuclear ITS and GBSSI sequence data to determine whether diploid and polyploid forms represent the same phylogenetic species, and the phylogeographic relationships among populations and ploidy levels. Within populations, no variation in ploidy was found, although among populations there was a perfect correspondence between sexual system and cytotype. Diploid populations were all hermaphroditic, whereas tetraploid populations were all gender dimorphic. There was no clear geographic pattern to the occurrence of diploid and tetraploid forms. Phylogenetic analysis confirms that L. californicum, regardless of ploidy, forms a monophyletic group within the genus Lycium. Sequences from diploid and polyploid individuals did not form reciprocally monophyletic clades, indicating either multiple gains of polyploidy, ongoing gene flow between cytotypes, or lack of lineage sorting since the evolution of polyploidy. The correspondence between ploidy and sex expression is consistent with the hypothesis that polyploidization triggers the evolution of gender dimorphism in this and other Lycium species.
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Vol. 59 • No. 9