Inbreeding depression and heterosis vary in space and time in the serpentinophyte perennial Minuartia smejkalii

Bojana Stojanova 1 , Zuzana Münzbergová 2 3 & Hana Pánková 2


  1. Department of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of Ostrava, Chittussiho 10, CZ-710 00 Slezská Ostrava, Czech Republic
  2. Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Botany, CZ-252 43 Průhonice, Czech Republic
  3. Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Benátská 2, CZ-128 00 Praha 2, Czech Republic

Published: 5 May 2021 ,

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Heterosis has been used occasionally in attempts to save endangered populations of plants. However, there is a lack of knowledge on how inbreeding, heterosis and outbreeding depression jointly influence fitness of species with small, fragmented populations. Understanding the joint action of these processes is further complicated by variation among populations and environments in time and the stochastic effects of genetic drift. We assayed offspring of hand pollinated plants from three natural populations of Minuartia smejkalii, an endemic serpentinophyte perennial, in two soil treatments and three competitive environments for two consecutive years. We detected no early-acting inbreeding or outbreeding depression in a greenhouse. Late-acting inbreeding depression in the common garden was low in small populations and could be counteracted by heterosis. Both inbreeding depression and heterosis varied among traits, between years and with environmental stress. Notably inbreeding depression declined as environmental stress increased and phenotypic variation in the population decreased. Moreover, heterosis increased with environmental stress. Based on our results, we recommend a conservation approach in which between-population outbred plants are introduced into very small populations to maximise the benefits of heterosis in M. smejkalii. Nevertheless, extrapolation to other species, or even other populations of M. smejkalii of limited size, should be done with caution because of the stochastic effects of genetic drift that result in unique genetic consequences of outbreeding for each population.


environment, inbreeding depression, genetic drift, heterosis, Minuartia smejkalii, outbreeding depression, serpentine, perennial

How to cite

Stojanova B., Münzbergová Z. & Pánková H. (2021) Inbreeding depression and heterosis vary in space and time in the serpentinophyte perennial Minuartia smejkalii. – Preslia 93: 149168,