Freeland, J. R.; Biss, P.; Conrad, K. F. and Silvertown, J.
Selection pressures have caused genome-wide population differentiation of Anthoxanthum odoratum despite the potential for high gene flow.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 23(4),
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The extent to which divergent selection can drive genome-wide population differentiation remains unclear. Theory predicts that in the face of ongoing gene flow, population differentiation should be apparent only at those markers that are directly or indirectly (i.e. through linkage) under selection. However, if reproductive barriers limit gene flow, genome-wide population differentiation may occur even in geographically proximate populations. Some insight into the link between selection and genetic differentiation in the presence of ongoing gene flow can come from long-term experiments such as The Park Grass Experiment, which has been running for over 150 years, and provides a unique example of a heterogeneous environment with a long and detailed history. Fertilizer treatments applied in the Park Grass Experiment have led to rapid evolutionary change in sweet vernal grass Anthoxanthum odoratum, but until now, nothing was known of how these changes would be reflected in neutral molecular markers. We have genotyped ten A. odoratum populations from the Park Grass Experiment using Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms (AFLPs). Our data show that nutrient additions have resulted in genome-wide divergence among plots despite the high potential for ongoing gene flow. This provides a well-documented example of concordance between genomes and environmental conditions that has arisen in continuous populations across a time span of fewer than 75 generations.
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