Hybridization and divergence in multi-species oak (Quercus) communities

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© 2016 The Linnean Society of London. Oaks (Quercus: Fagaceae) commonly interbreed yet retain their morphological, genetic and ecological distinctiveness. Post-zygotic isolation mechanisms, such as ecologically dependent selection on adaptive loci, may therefore limit introgression. To test this hypothesis, we quantified hybridization and genetic divergence across the contact zone of four red oaks (Quercus section Lobatae) in the Great Lakes region of North America using a suite of 259 amplified fragment length polymorphisms and 27 genic and genomic microsatellite markers. First, we identified hybrids using genetic structure analysis and confirmed the reliability of our assignments via simulations. Then, we identified candidate loci for species maintenance with three complementary tests for selection and obtained partial gene sequences linked to an outlier locus and three other loci. We detected evidence of recent hybridization among all species and considerable gene flow between Q. ellipsoidalis and Q. velutina. Overall, c. 20% of Q. velutina had recent ancestry from Q. ellipsoidalis, whereas nearly 30% of Q. ellipsoidalis had a Q. velutina ancestor. Most loci were negligibly to weakly differentiated among species, but two gene-linked microsatellites deviated significantly from neutral expectations in multiple, complementary outlier tests. Both outlier loci were located in the same 15-cM bin on an existing Q. robur linkage map, a region under divergent selection in other oak species. Adaptive loci in this highly differentiated genomic region may contribute to ecological divergence among species and limit introgression.

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Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society