Effective population size is positively correlated with levels of adaptive divergence among annual sunflowers

Jared L. Strasburg, Nolan C. Kane, Andrew R. Raduski, Aurélie Bonin, Richard Michelmore, Loren H. Rieseberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The role of adaptation in the divergence of lineages has long been a central question in evolutionary biology, and as multilocus sequence data sets have become available for a wide range of taxa, empirical estimates of levels of adaptive molecular evolution are increasingly common. Estimates vary widely among taxa, with high levels of adaptive evolution in Drosophila, bacteria, and viruses but very little evidence of widespread adaptive evolution in hominids. Although estimates in plants are more limited, some recent work has suggested that rates of adaptive evolution in a range of plant taxa are surprisingly low and that there is little association between adaptive evolution and effective population size in contrast to patterns seen in other taxa. Here, we analyze data from 35 loci for six sunflower species that vary dramatically in effective population size. We find that rates of adaptive evolution are positively correlated with effective population size in these species, with a significant fraction of amino acid substitutions driven by positive selection in the species with the largest effective population sizes but little or no evidence of adaptive evolution in species with smaller effective population sizes. Although other factors likely contribute as well, in sunflowers effective population size appears to be an important determinant of rates of adaptive evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1569-1580
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Helianthus
  • McDonald-Kreitman test
  • adaptation
  • effective population size
  • molecular evolution
  • sunflowers


Dive into the research topics of 'Effective population size is positively correlated with levels of adaptive divergence among annual sunflowers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this