Natural selection maintains a single-locus leaf shape cline in Ivyleaf morning glory, Ipomoea hederacea

Authors

  • Brandon E. Campitelli,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
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  • John R. Stinchcombe

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
    2. Center for the Analysis of Genome Evolution and Function, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
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Correspondence: Brandon E. Campitelli, Fax: +1 416 978 5878; E-mail: brandon.campitelli@utoronto.ca

Abstract

Clines in phenotypic traits with an underlying genetic basis potentially implicate natural selection. However, neutral evolutionary processes such as random colonization, spatially restricted gene flow, and genetic drift could also result in similar spatial patterns, especially for single-locus traits because of their susceptibility to stochastic events. One way to distinguish between adaptive and neutral mechanisms is to compare the focal trait to neutral genetic loci to determine whether neutral loci demonstrate clinal variation (consistent with a neutral cline), or not. Ivyleaf morning glory, Ipomoea hederacea, exhibits a latitudinal cline for a Mendelian leaf shape polymorphism in eastern North America, such that lobed genotypes dominate northern populations and heart-shaped genotypes are restricted to southern populations. Here, we evaluate potential evolutionary mechanisms for this cline by first determining the allele frequencies at the leaf shape locus for 77 populations distributed throughout I. hederacea's range and then comparing the geographical pattern at this locus to neutral amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) loci. We detected both significant clinal variation and high genetic differentiation at the leaf shape locus across all populations. In contrast, 99% of the putatively neutral loci do not display clinal variation, and I. hederacea populations show very little overall genetic differentiation, suggesting that there is a moderate level of gene flow. In addition, the leaf shape locus was identified as a major FST outlier experiencing divergent selection, relative to all the AFLP loci. Together, these data strongly suggest that the cline in leaf shape is being maintained by spatially varying natural selection.

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