Androdioecy, the coexistence of males and hermaphrodites within a population, is a rare breeding system, often considered as unlikely to evolve because of restrictive conditions for its maintenance. Phillyrea angustifolia, a wind-pollinated shrub, is one of the handful species reported to be androdioecious. Our previous studies have shown that natural populations of this species in southern France exhibit higher male frequencies (∼50%) than predicted on theoretical grounds. Thus, the male functionality of hermaphrodites is still debated. To assess the functional breeding system of this species in the wild, a paternity analysis was performed with two highly polymorphic microsatellite loci on 729 seeds collected on 10 maternal shrubs in a natural population of 24 mature individuals of P. angustifolia. A large proportion of seeds were found to have been sired by pollen from outside the population. Analysis of seeds sired by individuals within the study population revealed a high male fertility of hermaphrodites resulting in a low male advantage in fertility for male plants. Intermate distances were found to have a strong impact on male reproductive success, whereas sexual morph had no effect, with males and hermaphrodites performing equivalently. This study is the first to unequivocally document the occurrence of a male function of hermaphrodites in a natural population of an androdioecious species.
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Vol. 56 • No. 7