Genomic patterns of adaptive divergence between chromosomally differentiated sunflower species

Jared L. Strasburg, Caroline Scotti-Saintagne, Ivan Scotti, Zhao Lai, Loren H. Rieseberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Understanding the genetic mechanisms of speciation and basis of species differences is among the most important challenges in evolutionary biology. Two questions of particular interest are what roles divergent selection and chromosomal differentiation play in these processes. A number of recently proposed theories argue that chromosomal rearrangements can facilitate the development and maintenance of reproductive isolation and species differences by suppressing recombination within rearranged regions. Reduced recombination permits the accumulation of alleles contributing to isolation and adaptive differentiation and protects existing differences from the homogenizing effects of introgression between incipient species. Here, we examine patterns of genetic diversity and divergence in rearranged versus collinear regions in two widespread, extensively hybridizing sunflower species, Helianthus annuus and Helianthus petiolaris, using sequence data from 77 loci distributed throughout the genomes of the two species. We find weak evidence for increased genetic divergence near chromosomal break points but not within rearranged regions overall. We find no evidence for increased rates of adaptive divergence on rearranged chromosomes; in fact, collinear chromosomes show a far greater excess of fixed amino acid differences between the two species. A comparison with a third sunflower species indicates that much of the nonsynonymous divergence between H. annuus and H. petiolaris probably occurred during or soon after their formation. Our results suggest a limited role for chromosomal rearrangements in genetic divergence, but they do document substantial adaptive divergence and provide further evidence of how species integrity and genetic identity can be maintained at many loci in the face of extensive hybridization and gene flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1341-1355
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromosomal rearrangements
  • Helianthus
  • Hybridization
  • Positive selection
  • Species boundaries
  • Sunflowers


Dive into the research topics of 'Genomic patterns of adaptive divergence between chromosomally differentiated sunflower species'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this