Late-acting self-incompatible system, preferential allogamy and delayed selfing in the heteromorphic invasive populations of Ludwigia grandiflora subsp. hexapetala.
Breeding system influences local population genetic structure, effective size, offspring fitness and functional variation. Determining the respective importance of self- and cross-fertilization in hermaphroditic flowering plants is thus important to understand their ecology and evolution. The worldwide invasive species, Ludwigia grandiflora subsp. hexapetala (Lgh) presents two floral morphs: one self-compatible short-styled morph (S-morph) and one self-incompatible long-styled morph (L-morph). In this study, we identified the breeding systems of western European experimental and natural populations of Lgh by comparing structural characteristics of pollen and style, by studying self- and cross-pollen tube elongations and the viability of the resulting seeds and seedlings in both floral morphs. Our results showed no differences in pollen shape and stigma surfaces no matter the floral morph. In the self-incompatible L-morph flowers, self-pollen tubes were stopped tardily, in the ovarian area, and were unable to fertilize the ovules. This first formal identification of a late-acting, prezygotic self-incompatible system (LSI) in Ludwigia genus contributes a case of LSI in an additional family within the Myrtales order. In the self-compatible S-morph flowers, self-pollen always succeeded to self-fertilize the ovules that nearly all developed into viable seedlings. However, cross-pollen tubes always elongated faster than self-pollen tubes in both morphs. S-morph individuals may thus advantage preferential allogamy over selfing when cross-pollen is available despite its self-compatibility. As expected in late-acting self-incompatible systems, L-morph flowers authorised 0.2‰ of selfed seeds during the uppermost flowering season, that increased to 1‰ at the end of the flowering season. Such delayed selfing resulted in a significant quantity of viable floating seeds. They may contribute to the local regeneration, seed bank and propagation of the L-morph, which may contribute to explain its invasion success worldwide. Management plans of Lgh would gain to consider the breeding systems we identified.