Plant species have repeatedly evolved recognition systems between pollen and pistils that identify and reject inappropriate matings. Two of the most important systems recognize self-pollen and interspecific pollen. Outstanding questions are whether and how these two recognition systems are linked and if this association could constrain the evolution of mate choice under different environmental conditions. Our study characterizes variation in self and interspecific incompatibility in the native range of the Texas wildflower Phlox drummondii. We found quantitative variation in self-incompatibility and demonstrate that this variation is significantly correlated with variation in incompatibility with its close congener P. cuspidata. Furthermore, we find that self and interspecific incompatibility likely involve common mechanisms of pollen adhesion or early pollen-tube germination. Finally, we show that P. drummondii populations that co-occur and hybridize with P. cuspidata have significantly higher self-incompatibility and interspecific incompatibility than isolated P. drummondii populations. This geographic variation suggests that the evolution of self-compatibility is constrained by selection favoring interspecific incompatibility to reduce maladaptive hybridization. To our knowledge this is the strongest evidence that a correlation between variation in self and interspecific incompatibilities could influence the evolution of pollen recognition across the range of a species.
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