Extant conifer species may be susceptible to rapid environmental change owing to their long generation times, but could also be resilient due to high levels of standing genetic diversity. Hybridisation between closely related species can increase genetic diversity and generate novel allelic combinations capable of fuelling adaptive evolution. Our study unravelled the genetic architecture of adaptive evolution in a conifer hybrid zone formed between Pinus strobiformis and P. flexilis. Using a multifaceted approach emphasising the spatial and environmental patterns of linkage disequilibrium and ancestry enrichment, we identified recently introgressed and background genetic variants to be driving adaptive evolution along different environmental gradients. Specifically, recently introgressed variants from P. flexilis were favoured along freeze-related environmental gradients, while background variants were favoured along water availability-related gradients. We posit that such mosaics of allelic variants within conifer hybrid zones will confer upon them greater resilience to ongoing and future environmental change and can be a key resource for conservation efforts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Medicine (miscellaneous)