J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2015, Vol. 57 ›› Issue (10): 859-870.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12325

Special Issue: Sexual Reproductions

• Plant Reproduction Biology • Previous Articles    

Reproductive isolation between sympatric sister species, Mussaenda kwangtungensis and M. pubescens var. alba

Zhonglai Luo1†, Tingting Duan1,2†, Shuai Yuan1,2, Shi Chen3, Xiufeng Bai4 and Dianxiang Zhang1*   

  1. 1Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, South China Botanical Garden, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China
    2University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    3Beneficial Insects Institute, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, China
    4Department of Cell Biology, the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China
  • Received:2014-08-07 Accepted:2014-12-21 Published:2014-12-26
  • About author:These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Correspondence: E-mail: dx-zhang@scbg.ac.cn


Reproductive isolation defines the biological species concept and plays a key role in the formation and maintenance of species. The relative contributions of different isolating stages has been suggested to be closely associated with phylogenetic relatedness. Few studies have focused on the relative contributions of pre- versus post-zygotic mechanisms, and even fewer have been conducted under strict phylogenetic frameworks. Pre- and post-zygotic reproductive isolation stages have been investigated in the sister species Mussaenda kwangtungensis and M. pubescens var. alba. The two species have partly overlapping distribution ranges and flowering times, while the principal pollinators differed strikingly for them, demonstrating strong pre-zygotic isolations. Natural hybrids were detected by simple sequence repeat markers and their maternal parents were identified based on chloroplast gene sequences. Five out of 81 individuals were suggested to be hybrids that fall into the categories F2, BC1, and BC2 by the NewHybrids analysis. Interspecific crossings resulted in significantly reduced fruit set and seed germination rates. Phylogenetic analysis revealed short Kimura-2-parameter distance between M. kwangtungensis and M. pubescens var. alba. These findings strongly supported the hypothesis that for species with a closer phylogenetic relationship, pre-zygotic isolation plays an important part in limiting gene exchange in sympatric areas.


Luo Z, Duan T, Yuan S, Chen S, Bai X, Zhang D (2015) Reproductive isolation between sympatric sister species, Mussaenda kwangtungensis and M. pubescens var.alba. J Integr Plant Biol 57: 859–870 doi: 10.1111/jipb.12325

Key words: Hybridization, microsatellites, Mussaenda, phylogenetic analysis, reproductive isolation

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