• Anthocyanin biosynthesis;
  • population structure;
  • reinforcement;
  • selective sweep

Character displacement, which arises when species diverge in sympatry to decrease competition for resources or reproductive interference, has been observed in a wide variety of plants and animals. A classic example of reproductive character displacement, presumed to be caused by reinforcing selection, is flower-color variation in the native Texas wildflower Phlox drummondii. Here, we use population genetic analyses to investigate molecular signatures of selection on flower-color variation in this species. First, we quantify patterns of neutral genetic variation across the range of P. drummondii to demonstrate that restricted gene flow and genetic drift cannot explain the pattern of flower-color divergence in this species. There is evidence of extensive gene flow across populations with different flower colors, suggesting selection caused flower-color divergence. Second, analysis of sequence variation in the genes underlying this divergence reveals a signature of a selective sweep in one of the two genes, further indicating selection is responsible for divergence in sympatry. The lack of a signature of selection at the second locus does not necessarily indicate a lack of selection on this locus but instead brings attention to the uncertainty in depending on molecular signatures to identify selection.