Outcrossing by hosts may offer protection from natural enemies adapted to parental genotypes by creating diverse progeny that differ from their parents through genetic recombination. However, past experimental work addressing the relationship between mating system and disease in offspring has given conflicting results, suggesting that outcrossing might also cause the dissolution of resistant genotypes. To determine if selfed progeny are more susceptible to disease caused by the heteroecious rust, Puccinia recondita, or if selfing preserves existing resistant genotypes, we used a factorial design to compare levels of infection of selfed and outcrossed progeny of Impatiens capensis, a woodland annual with a mixed mating system. We compared the level of host infection when exposed to three pathogen sources in the field: the sympatric rust population, and two allopatric rust populations. Outcrossed progeny exposed to sympatric rust had higher infection scores than selfed progeny exposed to the same rust, suggesting that outcrossing breaks up resistant genotypes. In addition, there was a trend for the rust to be more infective on sympatric rather than allopatric hosts. We also examined whether rust infection differentially alters the fitness of selfed and outcrossed progeny. Outcrossed plants that escaped infection had higher fitness, as measured by fruit production, than selfed plants, but there was no difference in fitness between infected selfed and infected outcrossed plants. Thus, outcrossing was advantageous in the absence of disease, but there was no fitness difference between selfed and outcrossed progeny in the presence of disease. In sum, our results indicate that interactions with pathogens can eliminate or reverse the advantage of outcrossing.
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Vol. 61 • No. 11