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Species Selection Maintains Self-Incompatibility

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Science  22 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6003, pp. 493-495
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194513

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Abstract

Identifying traits that affect rates of speciation and extinction and, hence, explain differences in species diversity among clades is a major goal of evolutionary biology. Detecting such traits is especially difficult when they undergo frequent transitions between states. Self-incompatibility, the ability of hermaphrodites to enforce outcrossing, is frequently lost in flowering plants, enabling self-fertilization. We show, however, that in the nightshade plant family (Solanaceae), species with functional self-incompatibility diversify at a significantly higher rate than those without it. The apparent short-term advantages of potentially self-fertilizing individuals are therefore offset by strong species selection, which favors obligate outcrossing.

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