Diversity and natural hybridization in a highly endemic species of Petunia (Solanaceae): a molecular and ecological analysis

Authors

  • ALINE P. LORENZ-LEMKE,

    1. Departamento de Genética, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Caixa Postal 15053, 91501-970 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil,
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  • GERALDO MÄDER,

    1. Departamento de Genética, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Caixa Postal 15053, 91501-970 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil,
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  • VALÉRIA C. MUSCHNER,

    1. Departamento de Genética, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Caixa Postal 15053, 91501-970 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil,
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  • JOÃO R. STEHMANN,

    1. Departamento de Botânica, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Antônio Carlos 6627, 31270-110 Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil,
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  • SANDRO L. BONATTO,

    1. Centro de Biologia Genômica e Molecular, Faculdade de Biociências, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Ipiranga 6681, 90610-001 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
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  • FRANCISCO M. SALZANO,

    1. Departamento de Genética, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Caixa Postal 15053, 91501-970 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil,
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  • LORETA B. FREITAS

    1. Departamento de Genética, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Caixa Postal 15053, 91501-970 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil,
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Loreta B. Freitas, Fax: 55 51 3316–9823; E-mail: loreta.freitas@ufrgs.br

Abstract

Intrinsic reproductive barriers among the species of Petunia are weak and genetic isolation is obtained mainly by geographical separation and ecological diversification. The Serra do Sudeste region in the extreme south of Brazil is one of the centres of diversity of this genus and is characterized by the presence of species with different pollination syndromes. Petunia exserta is known only from four sandstone towers in a restricted area of this region (about 500 km2) and is characterized by its differentiated habitat (shelters in the sandstone towers) and by its floral characteristics adapted to ornithophily. In towers where this species is sympatric with the sphingophilous Petunia axillaris, phylogenetically close to P. exserta, we found plants with intermediate floral morphology, suggesting hybridization between them. To test this hypothesis and to better understand its consequences we analysed the sequences of the plastid trnH-psbA, trnS-trnG and psbB-psbH intergenic spacers in 121 individuals sampled all over the P. exserta distribution. The joint analysis of the three markers revealed 13 haplotypes and the network showed two main genetic clades, which probably represent the original gene pool of the two species in the region. In general, individuals of a given population presented the same haplotype, independently of phenotype, corroborating the hybridization hypothesis. Field observations suggest that hummingbirds are responsible for the interspecific gene flow. Analysis of molecular variance revealed high interpopulational diversity among the towers. The low gene flow between populations is possibly related to the autochoric seed dispersion system.

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