The role of hybridization during ecological divergence of southwestern white pine (Pinus strobiformis) and limber pine (P. flexilis)

Mitra Menon, Justin C. Bagley, Christopher J. Friedline, Amy V Whipple, Anna W. Schoettle, Alejandro Leal-Sàenz, Christian Wehenkel, Francisco Molina-Freaner, Lluvia Flores-Rentería, M. Socorro Gonzalez-Elizondo, Richard A. Sniezko, Samuel A. Cushman, Kristen M Waring, Andrew J. Eckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Interactions between extrinsic factors, such as disruptive selection and intrinsic factors, such as genetic incompatibilities among loci, often contribute to the maintenance of species boundaries. The relative roles of these factors in the establishment of reproductive isolation can be examined using species pairs characterized by gene flow throughout their divergence history. We investigated the process of speciation and the maintenance of species boundaries between Pinus strobiformis and Pinus flexilis. Utilizing ecological niche modelling, demographic modelling and genomic cline analyses, we illustrated a divergence history with continuous gene flow. Our results supported an abundance of advanced generation hybrids and a lack of loci exhibiting steep transition in allele frequency across the hybrid zone. Additionally, we found evidence for climate-associated variation in the hybrid index and niche divergence between parental species and the hybrid zone. These results are consistent with extrinsic factors, such as climate, being an important isolating mechanism. A build-up of intrinsic incompatibilities and of coadapted gene complexes is also apparent, although these appear to be in the earliest stages of development. This supports previous work in coniferous species demonstrating the importance of extrinsic factors in facilitating speciation. Overall, our findings lend support to the hypothesis that varying strength and direction of selection pressures across the long lifespans of conifers, in combination with their other life history traits, delays the evolution of strong intrinsic incompatibilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1260
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Ecology
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Keywords

  • conifers
  • ecological speciation
  • extrinsic barriers
  • hybrid zone
  • introgression
  • population genomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics

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