Multiple hybrid formation in natural populations: concerted evolution of the internal transcribed spacer of nuclear ribosomal DNA (ITS) in North American Arabis divaricarpa (Brassicaceae).
DNA sequence variation of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of nuclear ribosomal DNA from Arabis holboellii, A. drummondii, and its putative hybrid A. divaricarpa was analyzed to study hybrid speciation in a species system geographically covering nearly the entire North American continent. Based on molecular systematics the investigated species are better combined under the genus Boechera. Multiple intraindividual ITS copies were detected in numerous accessions of A. divaricarpa, and, to a minor extent, in the parental taxa. Comparative phylogenetic analysis demonstrates that reticulate evolution is common. Consequently, concerted evolution of ITS regions resulted in different types of ITS fragments not only in hybrid populations but also in one of the parental taxa, A. holboellii. Hybrid formation often occurred independently at different sites and at different times, which is reflected by ITS copies resampling the original parental sequence variation in different ways. Some biogeographic structuring of genetic diversity is apparent and mirrors postglacial migration routes. Hybridization, reticulation, and apomixis are assumed to be the major forces driving speciation processes in this species complex. Analysis of conserved regions and secondary structures of the ITS region provided no evidence that, in this system, hybrid ITS evolution is predominantly driven in a particular direction. However, two regions in the ITS1 and ITS2, respectively, show higher mutation rates than expected from outgroup comparisons. Strong evidence for the occurrence of apomixis in A. holboellii and A. divaricarpa has come from pollen size measurements and estimations of pollen quality, which favor the hypothesis that A. drummondii served as paternal hybridization partner more frequently than A. holboellii.
Koch, MA; Dobes, C; Mitchell-Olds, T
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