Adaptive divergence in seed color camouflage in contrasting soil environments
Article first published online: 11 JAN 2013
© 2013 The Author. New Phytologist © 2013 New Phytologist Trust
Volume 197, Issue 4, pages 1311–1320, March 2013
How to Cite
Porter, S. S. (2013), Adaptive divergence in seed color camouflage in contrasting soil environments. New Phytologist, 197: 1311–1320. doi: 10.1111/nph.12110
- Issue published online: 4 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 11 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 20 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Received: 29 OCT 2012
- National Science Foundation
- DDIG. Grant Number: DEB-0645791
- adaptive divergence;
- seed predation
Although adaptive plant population divergence across contrasting soil conditions is often driven by abiotic soil factors, natural enemies may also contribute. Cryptic matching to the native soil color is a form of defensive camouflage that seeds can use to avoid detection by seed predators.
The legume Acmispon wrangelianus occurs across a variety of gray–green serpentine soils and brown nonserpentine soils. Quantitative digital image analysis of seed and soil colors was used to test whether genetically based seed color is a closer match to the color of the native soil than to the color of other nearby soils.
Lineages bear seeds that more closely match the color of their native serpentine or nonserpentine soil type than the opposing soil type. Further, even within a soil type, lineages bear seeds with a closer color match to the soil at their native site than to other sites.
The striking concordance between seed and native soil color suggests that natural selection for locally camouflaged seed color morphs, probably driven by seed predators, may maintain adaptive divergence in pigmentation, despite the opportunity for migration between soil environments.