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Keywords:

  • generalist pollination syndrome;
  • hybridization;
  • Piriqueta cistoides ssp. caroliniana;
  • retrospective selection analysis;
  • transgressive floral traits;
  • turneraceae

Abstract

Hybridization between closely related lineages is a mechanism that might promote substantive changes in phenotypic traits of descendants, resulting in transgressive evolution. Interbreeding between divergent but morphologically similar lineages can produce exceptional phenotypes, but the potential for transgressive variation to facilitate long-term trait changes in derived hybrid lineages has received little attention. We compare pollinator-mediated selection on transgressive floral traits in both early-generation and derived hybrid lineages of the Piriqueta cistoides ssp. caroliniana complex. The bowl-shaped flowers of morphotypes in this complex have similar gross morphologies and attract a common suite of small insect pollinators. However, they are defined by significant differences in characters that generate pollinator interest and visitation, including floral area and petal separation. In common garden experiments, patterns of pollen deposition in early-generation recombinant hybrids indicate that Piriqueta's pollinators favour flowers with greater area and reduced petal separation. Changes in floral morphology in derived hybrid lineages are consistent with predictions from selection gradients, but the magnitude of change is limited relative to the range of transgressive variation. These results suggest that hybridization provides variation for evolution of divergent floral traits. However, the potential for extreme transgressive variants to contribute to phenotypic shifts may be limited due to reduced heritability, evolutionary constraints or fitness trade-offs.