The long and the short of it: long-styed florets are associated with higher outcrossing rate in Senecio vulgaris and result from delayed selp-pollen germination

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Background: It has been reported that some plants of the self-compatible species Senecio vulgaris produce capitulacontaining long-styled florets which fail to set seed when left to self-pollinate, although readily set seed when self-pollinatedby hand.Aims: To determine if production of long-styled florets is associated with higher outcrossing rate in S. vulgaris, and whetherlong-styles occur in non-pollinated florets, whereas short-styles are present in self-pollinated florets.Methods: The frequency of long-styled florets was compared in the radiate and non-radiate variants of S. vulgaris, known toexhibit higher and lower outcrossing rates, respectively. In addition, style length was compared in emasculated florets thatwere either self-pollinated or left non-pollinated.Results: Long-styled florets were more frequent in the higher outcrossing radiate variant. Following emasculation, longstyles occurred in non-pollinated florets, while short styles were present in self-pollinated florets. The two variants did notdiffer in style length within the non-pollinated or within the self-pollinated floret categories.Conclusions: A high frequency of long-styled florets is associated with higher outcrossing rate in S. vulgaris and resultsfrom delayed self-pollination and pollen germination on stigmas.