|Looking into the black box: simulating the role of self-fertilization and mortality in the genetic structure of Macrocystis pyrifera.
|Johansson, ML, Raimondi, PT, Reed, DC, Coelho, NC, Serrão, EA, Alberto, FA
|Year of Publication
|California, Computer Simulation, Gene Flow, Genetics, Population, Inbreeding, Logistic Models, Macrocystis, Microsatellite Repeats, Models, Genetic, Self-Fertilization, Sequence Analysis, DNA
Patterns of spatial genetic structure (SGS), typically estimated by genotyping adults, integrate migration over multiple generations and measure the effective gene flow of populations. SGS results can be compared with direct ecological studies of dispersal or mating system to gain additional insights. When mismatches occur, simulations can be used to illuminate the causes of these mismatches. Here, we report a SGS and simulation-based study of self-fertilization in Macrocystis pyrifera, the giant kelp. We found that SGS is weaker than expected in M. pyrifera and used computer simulations to identify selfing and early mortality rates for which the individual heterozygosity distribution fits that of the observed data. Only one (of three) population showed both elevated kinship in the smallest distance class and a significant negative slope between kinship and geographical distance. All simulations had poor fit to the observed data unless mortality due to inbreeding depression was imposed. This mortality could only be imposed for selfing, as these were the only simulations to show an excess of homozygous individuals relative to the observed data. Thus, the expected data consistently achieved nonsignificant differences from the observed data only under models of selfing with mortality, with best fits between 32% and 42% selfing. Inbreeding depression ranged from 0.70 to 0.73. The results suggest that density-dependent mortality of early life stages is a significant force in structuring Macrocystis populations, with few highly homozygous individuals surviving. The success of these results should help to validate simulation approaches even in data-poor systems, as a means to estimate otherwise difficult-to-measure life cycle parameters.