▪ Abstract 

Mixed mating, in which hermaphrodite plant species reproduce by both self- and cross-fertilization, presents a challenging problem for evolutionary biologists. Theory suggests that inbreeding depression, the main selective factor opposing the evolution of selfing, can be purged with self-fertilization, a process that is expected to yield pure strategies of either outcrossing or selfing. Here we present updated evidence suggesting that mixed mating systems are frequent in seed plants. We outline the floral and pollination mechanisms that can lead to intermediate outcrossing, review the theoretical models that address the stability of intermediate outcrossing, and examine relevant empirical evidence. A comparative analysis of estimated inbreeding coefficients and outcrossing rates suggests that mixed mating often evolves despite strong inbreeding depression. The adaptive significance of mixed mating has yet to be fully explained for any species. Recent theoretical and empirical work suggests that future progress will come from a better integration of studies of floral mechanisms, genetics, and ecology, and recognition of how selective pressures vary in space and time.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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