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1.  High lifetime inbreeding depression counteracts the reproductive assurance benefit of selfing in a mass-flowering shrub 
Decreases in mate and/or pollinator availability would be expected to affect the selective pressure on plant mating systems. An increase in self-fertilization may evolve to compensate for the negative effects of pollination failure. However, the benefit of selfing in variable pollination environments depends on the relative fitnesses of selfed and outcrossed progeny. We investigated the potential for selfing to provide reproductive assurance over the lifetime of a long-lived perennial species and its variation between plant patches of various sizes. Patch size is likely to affect mate and pollinator availabilities, thereby affecting pollination success and the rate of selfing. We estimated fruit and seed set, reproductive assurance, self-compatibility, the multilocus patch selfing rate and lifetime inbreeding depression in natural patches of Rhododendron ferrugineum (Ericaceae), a mass-flowering species characterized by considerable patch size variation (as estimated by the total number of inflorescences).
Open seed set declined linearly with increasing patch size, whereas pollinator-mediated seed set (emasculated flowers) was not significantly affected. Progeny array analysis indicated that the selfing rate declined with increasing patch size, consistent with greater reproductive assurance in small sparse patches than in large, dense patches. However, fruit set and adult fitness decreased with decreasing patch size, with an estimated mean lifetime inbreeding depression of 0.9 (obtained by comparing F values in adults and progenies).
Lifetime inbreeding depression strongly counteracts the advantage of reproductive assurance due to selfing in this long-lived species. The poor fitness of selfed offspring should counteract any evolution towards selfing, despite its potential to alleviate the negative consequences of pollen limitation. This study highlights the need to estimate lifetime inbreeding depression, together with mating system and pollination parameters, if we are to understand the actual benefit of selfing and avoid the overestimation of reproductive assurance.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-014-0243-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4258271  PMID: 25433917
Inbreeding depression; Mixed mating; Perennial species; Self-compatibility; Selfing rate; Reproductive assurance; Rhododendron ferrugineum
2.  Microsatellite Marker Analysis Reveals the Complex Phylogeographic History of Rhododendron ferrugineum (Ericaceae) in the Pyrenees 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92976.
Genetic variation within plant species is determined by a number of factors such as reproductive mode, breeding system, life history traits and climatic events. In alpine regions, plants experience heterogenic abiotic conditions that influence the population's genetic structure. The aim of this study was to investigate the genetic structure and phylogeographic history of the subalpine shrub Rhododendron ferrugineum across the Pyrenees and the links between the populations in the Pyrenees, the Alps and Jura Mountains. We used 27 microsatellite markers to genotype 645 samples from 29 Pyrenean populations, three from the Alps and one from the Jura Mountains. These data were used to estimate population genetics statistics such as allelic richness, observed heterozygosity, expected heterozygosity, fixation index, inbreeding coefficient and number of migrants. Genetic diversity was found to be higher in the Alps than in the Pyrenees suggesting colonization waves from the Alps to the Pyrenees. Two separate genetic lineages were found in both the Alps and Pyrenees, with a substructure of five genetic clusters in the Pyrenees where a loss of genetic diversity was noted. The strong differentiation among clusters is maintained by low gene flow across populations. Moreover, some populations showed higher genetic diversity than others and presented rare alleles that may indicate the presence of alpine refugia. Two lineages of R. ferrugineum have colonized the Pyrenees from the Alps. Then, during glaciation events R. ferrugineum survived in the Pyrenees in different refugia such as lowland refugia at the eastern part of the chain and nunataks at high elevations leading to a clustered genetic pattern.
PMCID: PMC3965482  PMID: 24667824
3.  Conservation genetics of the rare Pyreneo-Cantabrian endemic Aster pyrenaeus (Asteraceae) 
AoB Plants  2011;2011:plr029.
Background and aims
Aster pyrenaeus (Asteraceae) is an endangered species, endemic to the Pyrenees and Cantabrian Mountain ranges (Spain). For its long-term persistence, this taxon needs an appropriate conservation strategy to be implemented. In this context, we studied the genetic structure over the entire geographical range of the species and then inferred the genetic relationships between populations.
Molecular diversity was analysed for 290 individuals from 12 populations in the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian Mountains using inter simple sequence repeats (ISSRs). Bayesian-based analysis was applied to examine population structure.
Principal results
Analysis of genetic similarity and diversity, based on 87 polymorphic ISSR markers, suggests that despite being small and isolated, populations have an intermediate genetic diversity level (P % = 52.8 %, HE = 0.21 ± 0.01, genetic similarity between individuals = 49.6 %). Genetic variation was mainly found within populations (80–84 %), independently of mountain ranges, whereas 16–18 % was found between populations and <5 % between mountain ranges. Analyses of molecular variance indicated that population differentiation was highly significant. However, no significant correlation was found between the genetic and geographical distances among populations (Rs = 0.359, P = 0.140). Geographical structure based on assignment tests identified five different gene pools that were independent of any particular structure in the landscape.
The results suggest that population isolation is probably relatively recent, and that the outbreeding behaviour of the species maintains a high within-population genetic diversity. We assume that some long-distance dispersal, even among topographically remote populations, may be determinant for the pattern of genetic variation found in populations. Based on these findings, strategies are proposed for genetic conservation and management of the species.
PMCID: PMC3244905  PMID: 22476499

Results 1-3 (3)