Evolution, 50(5): 1871-1878 (Oct., 1996)
Effects of Differential Pollen-Tube Growth on Hybridization in the Louisiana Irises
Shanna E. Carney, Scott A. Hodges, Michael L. Arnold

To elucidate the importance of hybridization in evolution, it is necessary to understand the processes that affect hybridization frequency in nature. Here we focus on postpollination, prefertilization isolating mechanisms using two hybridizing species of Louisiana iris as a study system. We compared the effects of differential pollen-tube growth on the frequency of F1 hybrid formation in experimental crosses between Iris fulva and Iris hexagona. Analyses of seed production in fruits from pure conspecific and heterospecific pollinations revealed that more seeds were produced in the top half than the bottom half of fruits for all four crosses. Heterospecific pollen was applied to flowers of each species at zero to 24 h prior to conspecific pollen, thereby giving a head start to the foreign pollen. Using diagnostic isozyme markers, the frequency of hybrid progeny was examined at the level of the whole fruit and separately for the top and bottom halves of fruits. In both species, the proportion of hybrid seeds per fruit increased significantly with increasing head starts, suggesting that differences in pollen-tube growth rates affect the frequency of hybridization. In I. fulva fruits, the increase in hybrid seeds occurred in both halves of the fruits, but in I. hexagona an increase was only defected in the top half of fruits. These findings are consistent with a model that assumes attrition of pollen tubes due to the greater length of I. hexagona styles. While pollen-tube growth rate appears to be the most important factor affecting hybridization frequency in I. fulva, both pollen-tube growth rate and pollen-tube attrition appear to be important in I. hexagona.