Evolutionary transitions in floral color


Journal Article (Review)

The tremendous diversity in flower color among angiosperms implies that there have been numerous evolutionary transitions in this character. The conventional wisdom is that a large proportion of these transitions reflect adaptation to novel pollinator regimes. By contrast, recent research suggests that many of these transitions may instead have been driven by selection imposed by nonpollinator agents of selection acting on pleiotropic effects of flower color genes. I evaluate the evidence for these alternative hypotheses and find that while there is circumstantial evidence consistent with each hypothesis, there are no definitive examples of flower color evolution conforming to either hypothesis. I also document four macroevolutionary trends in flower color evolution: color transitions rates are often asymmetrical; biases favoring loss of pigmentation or favoring gain of pigmentation are both observed, but bias favoring transition from blue to red flowers seems more common than the reverse bias; transitions from blue to red often involve inactivation of branches of the anthocyanin pathway; and color transitions often involve loss-of-function mutations. Finally, I discuss how these trends may be related to one another. © 2008 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rausher, MD

Published Date

  • January 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 169 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 7 - 21

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1058-5893

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1086/523358

Citation Source

  • Scopus