Origin(s) of the diploid hybrid species Helianthus deserticola (Asteraceae)

Briana L. Gross, Andrea E. Schwarzbach, Loren H. Rieseberg

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92 Scopus citations


Homoploid hybrid speciation has traditionally been considered a rare event, dependent on the establishment of both a novel, balanced genotype and reproductive isolating barriers between the new species and its progenitors. However, more recent studies have shown that synthetic hybrids converge toward the chromosomal structure of natural hybrids after only a few generations, suggesting that this phenomenon may be more frequent than previously assumed. Here, the possibility that the diploid hybrid species Helianthus deserticola arose from more than one hybrid speciation event was investigated using patterns of variation from cpDNA, 18 nuclear microsatellite loci, and population interfertility. Helianthus deserticola contains cpDNA haplotypes characteristic of both parental species, is polyphyletic with one parental species based on nine microsatellite loci, and has a high degree of interfertility among populations. The data are consistent with either a single origin followed by introgression with the parental species or multiple origins. Analysis of microsatellite variation places the origin of H. deserticola between 170000 and 63000 years before present, making it unlikely that anthropogenic disturbances influenced its origin. Finally, the hybrid species generally has lower levels of genetic diversity but higher levels of differentiation among populations than either parental species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1708-1719
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican journal of botany
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Asteraceae
  • Helianthus
  • Hybrid speciation
  • Hybridization
  • Parallel speciation
  • Phylogeography
  • Sunflowers


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