DIVERGENCE IS FOCUSED ON FEW GENOMIC REGIONS EARLY IN SPECIATION: INCIPIENT SPECIATION OF SUNFLOWER ECOTYPES

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Abstract

Early in speciation, as populations undergo the transition from local adaptation to incipient species, is when a number of transient, but potentially important, processes appear to be most easily detected. These include signatures of selective sweeps that can point to asymmetry in selection between habitats, divergence hitchhiking, and associations of adaptive genes with environments. In a genomic comparison of ecotypes of the prairie sunflower, Helianthus petiolaris, occurring at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Colorado), we found that selective sweeps were mainly restricted to the dune ecotype and that there was variation across the genome in whether proximity to the nondune population constrained or promoted divergence. The major regions of divergence were few and large between ecotypes, in contrast with an interspecific comparison between H. petiolaris and a sympatric congener, Helianthus annuus. In general, the large regions of divergence observed in the ecotypic comparison swamped locus-specific associations with environmental variables. In both comparisons, regions of high divergence occurred in portions of the genetic map with high marker density, probably reflecting regions of low recombination. The difference in genomic distributions of highly divergent regions between ecotypic and interspecific comparisons highlights the value of studies spanning the spectrum of speciation in related taxa.

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