Self-pollination, style length development and seed set in self-compatible Asteraceae: evidence from Senecio vulgaris L.

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Background: Variation in style length has been reported in Senecio vulgaris and has been associated with outcrossing rate.Aims: To determine if (i) long styles lack germinated pollen on stigmas left to self-pollinate, (ii) successful self-pollination causes styles to stop elongating and shrink in length and (iii) seed set increases with the amount of pollen deposited on stigmas.Methods: Determined germinated self-pollen on stigmas of long and short styles after auto-self-pollination; scored style length over 48 h in self-pollinated and non-pollinated florets; recorded seed set after placing different amounts of pollen on stigmas.Results: Most long-styled florets had zero or low amounts of germinated pollen on stigmas in contrast to most short-styled florets. Styles initially elongated to the same length in self-pollinated and non-pollinated florets, then shrank in length in self-pollinated florets while continuing to elongate in non-pollinated florets. Seed set increased with number of pollen grains deposited on stigmas.Conclusions: Successful self-pollen deposition and/or germination on stigmas of S. vulgaris are indicated by presence of short styles, whereas the opposite is indicated by presence of long styles in florets left to self-pollinate. Self-pollination causes styles to shrink after initially elongating. Seed set is dependent on the amount of pollen deposited on stigmas.