High rate of adaptive evolution in two widespread European pines. uri icon

abstract

  • Comparing related organisms with differing ecological requirements and evolutionary histories can shed light on the mechanisms and drivers underlying genetic adaptation. Here, by examining a common set of hundreds of loci, we compare patterns of nucleotide diversity and molecular adaptation of two European conifers (Scots pine and maritime pine) living in contrasted environments and characterized by distinct population genetic structure (low and clinal in Scots pine, high and ecotypic in maritime pine) and demographic histories. We found higher nucleotide diversity in Scots pine than in maritime pine, whereas rates of new adaptive substitutions (xa), as estimated from the distribution of fitness effects, were similar across species and among the highest found in plants. Sample size and population genetic structure did not appear to have resulted in significant bias in estimates of xa. Moreover, population contraction-expansion dynamics for each species did not affect differentially the rate of adaptive substitution in these two pines. Several methodological and biological factors may underlie the unusually high rate of adaptive evolution of Scots pine and maritime pine. By providing two new case studies with contrasting evolutionary histories, we contribute to disentangling the multiple factors potentially affecting adaptive evolution in natural plant populations.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017