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Inbreeding effects on blossom volatiles in Cucurbita pepo subsp. texana (Cucurbitaceae).

Abstract

Self-pollination by plants gives rise to inbreeding depression. There is increasing recognition that plant inbreeding can have significant implications for interactions between plants and other organisms, including insects and pathogens. Many of these interactions are mediated by plant-derived volatiles, but the effects of inbreeding on volatile production have not previously been investigated. We examined variation in flower volatile production by the wild gourd Cucurbita pepo subsp. texana as a function of inbreeding, sex of the flower, and maternal line. We compared first-generation selfed progeny to outcrossed progeny to assess variation in blossom volatiles due to mating system. Our data indicate that self-pollination reduces total volatile production and changes the relative composition of individual compounds released by C. pepo subsp. texana blossoms. These findings have potentially important implications for interactions between C. pepo subsp. texana and its pollinators and herbivores-including diabroticite cucumber beetles, which vector the bacterial pathogen Erwinia tracheiphila-because previous studies have shown that a number of the individual compounds that vary with inbreeding level can influence insect behavior. We also found significant differences between the volatile profiles of male and female flowers and across maternal families.

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