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A population genomic analysis of species boundaries: neutral processes, adaptive divergence and introgression between two hybridizing plant species


A. Widmer. Fax: +41-44-632 14 63; E-mail:


Little is known about the nature of species boundaries between closely related plant species and about the extent of introgression as a consequence of hybridization upon secondary contact. To address these topics we analyzed genome-wide differentiation between two closely related Silene species, Silene latifolia and S. dioica, and assessed the strength of introgression in sympatry. More than 300 AFLP markers were genotyped in three allopatric and three sympatric populations of each species. Outlier analyses were performed separately for sympatric and allopatric populations. Both positive and negative outlier loci were found, indicating that divergent and balancing selection, respectively, have shaped patterns of divergence between the two species. Sympatric populations of the two species were found to be less differentiated genetically than allopatric populations, indicating that hybridization has led to gene introgression. We conclude that differentiation between S. latifolia and S. dioica has been shaped by a combination of introgression and selection. These results challenge the view that species differentiation is a genome-wide phenomenon, and instead support the idea that genomes can be porous and that species differentiation has a genic basis.

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