Abstract Detail

Hybrids and Hybridization

Twyford, Alex [1], Brown, Max [1], Becher, Hannes [1], Metherell, Chris [1].

The roloe of hybridization in the evolution of hemiparasitic eyebrights (Euphrasia, Orobanchaceae).

Many biologists have questioned the existence of clear-cut plant species and have instead suggested that species are largely an arbitrary human construct. The question of the discreteness or objectivity of plant species has largely been driven by a handful of taxonomically complex groups where species discrimination is particularly challenging. Here we tackle the nature of species differences in one such ‘nightmare’ group, British eyebrights (Euphrasia), a genus characterised by recent postglacial divergence, hybridisation, parasitism, polyploidy, phenotypic plasticity and self-fertilisation. We use growth experiments with different hosts to understand species differences and to characterise life-history traits, and a diversity of genomic approaches (whole genome sequencing, transcriptome sequencing, population genomics, plastid sequencing) to understand how the extent of hybridization blurs species boundaries. We show that amongst the mess is a suite of definable genetic units that have evolved in response to the parasitic lifestyle. While hybridization is extensive, with complete homogenization of genome-wide differences on small isolated islands, many species still show morphological and genetic differences. Our results highlight the need to study evolutionary processes in neglected taxonomically complex groups.  

1 - University Of Edinburgh, Institute Of Evolutionary Biology, Ashworth Laboratories, Charlotte Auerbach Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3FL, United Kingdom

United Kingdrom.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: 0008
Abstract ID:651
Candidate for Awards:Margaret Menzel Award

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