Influences of the genetic neighborhood on ramet reproductive success in a clonal desert cactus

Research paper by Israel G. Carrillo-Angeles, María C. Mandujano, Jordan Golubov

Indexed on: 03 Dec '10Published on: 03 Dec '10Published in: Population Ecology


Clonal structure in clonal plants can affect sexual reproduction. Individual ramets can decrease reproduction if their neighbors are ramets of the same genet due to inbreeding depression or self-incompatibility. We assessed ramet reproductive success in the partial self-incompatible Ferocactus robustus (Cactaceae) as a function of floral display size in focal ramets and floral display size and clonal structure of their reproductive neighborhoods. Ramets were labeled, sized in number of stems, mapped and genetically identified through RAPD markers in one population. A pollen dispersal area of 15-m radius was established for each ramet to determine the clonal diversity in the neighborhoods. Flower production and fruit set were counted on a monthly basis during one reproductive season as a surrogate of ramet fitness. We expected a decrease in individual ramet reproductive success as a function of the number of reproductive ramets of the same genet in the neighborhood. A total of 272 sampled ramets revealed 116 multilocus genotypes, showing high clonal diversity in the population (G/N = 0.43, D = 0.98). Clonal diversity of neighborhoods ranged from 0.06 to 1 and fruit set varied from 0 to 76.9%. Individual ramet reproductive success was influenced by (1) mate availability, (2) floral display size of a genet within the reproductive neighborhood, and (3) the proportion of distinguishable genotypes. Floral display size of genets and ramets coupled with the genetic diversity within the reproductive neighborhood determines the low sexual reproduction in F. robustus.