Mating system and the evolution of quantitative traits: An experimental study of Mimulus guttatus

Liza M. Holeski, John K. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The mating system of a population profoundly influences its evolution. Inbreeding alters the balance of evolutionary forces that determine the amount of genetic variation within a population. It redistributes that variation among individuals, altering heritabilities and genetic correlations. Inbreeding even changes the basic relationships between these genetic statistics and response to selection. If populations differing only in mating system are exposed to the same selection pressures, will they respond in qualitatively different ways? Here, we address this question by imposing selection on an index of two negatively correlated traits (flower size and development rate) within experimental populations that reproduce entirely by outcrossing, entirely by self-fertilizing, or by a mixture of outcrossing and selfing. Entirely selfing populations responded mainly by evolving larger flowers whereas outcrossing populations also evolved more rapid development. Divergence occurred despite an equivalent selection regime and no direct effect of mating system on fitness. The study provides an experimental demonstration of how the interaction of selection, genetic drift, and mating system can produce dramatic short-term changes in trait means, variances, and covariances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-723
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Epistasis
  • Mimulus guttatus
  • Mixed mating
  • Selection
  • Self-fertilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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