Journal of Arid Land


The breeding system and its consequence on fruit set of Eremosparton songoricum (Litv.) Vass., a rare shrubby legume occurring in moving or semi-fixed sand dunes of Central Asian deserts, were examined by manipula-tive experiments and observational studies in natural populations during the period of 2007–2009. The results showed that E. songoricum exhibits a mixed mating system. It is self-compatible, but depends strictly on pollinators to set fruits. Only two effective pollinators were detected and they triggered the specialized pol-lination mechanism (a ‘brush type’ and ‘tripping mechanism’). Geitonogamy becomes predominant in natural populations, because (74.5±1.3)% of visiting activity happened within or between inflorescences and (24.3±1.4)% occurred between ramets. As a result, inbreeding depression caused by geitonogamous selfing inevitably happened under natural conditions, showing 2.36 times less fruit set than was achieved by hand cross-pollination. The results explained the rarity of the species due to its breeding system, and will assist to develop suitable conservation strategies in severe desert environments.


geitonogamy; inbreeding depression; inland sand dunes; self-fertilization; pollen brush; tripping mechanism

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