Indexed on: 01 Aug '97Published on: 01 Aug '97Published in: Evolution
A survey of restriction site variation in the chloroplast genome of the annual plant genus Amsinckia, together with estimation of outcrossing rates, was conducted to analyze the evolutionary history of the mating system. Species, and in some cases populations within species, differ markedly in their mating system. Five taxa are distylous and predominantly outcrossing, or show mixed mating systems, while the remaining taxa are homostylous and predominantly self-fertilizing. Reconstruction of the molecular phylogeny of the group places different distylous and homostylous taxa at four separate branch tips. When distyly is treated as ancestral in the group, or when the loss of distyly is assumed to be more common than its gain, the results of the phylogenetic analysis support the hypothesis that the self-fertilizing taxa are of recent origin from outcrossing relatives. These findings are discussed with respect to theory for the evolution and breakdown of distyly and the probability of extinction of selfing lineages.