Role of seed germination in adaptation and reproductive isolation in Arabidopsis lyrata

Tuomas Hämälä, Tiina M. Mattila, Päivi H. Leinonen, Helmi Kuittinen, Outi Savolainen

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25 Scopus citations


Seed germination is an important developmental and life history stage. Yet, the evolutionary impact of germination has mainly been studied in the context of dormancy, or for its role in reproductive isolation between species. Here, we aim to examine multiple consequences of genetic divergence on germination traits between two Arabidopsis lyrata subspecies: ssp. petraea (Eurasia) and ssp. lyrata (North America). Postdormancy germination time, a potentially adaptive trait, showed differentiation between the populations, and quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping revealed that the trait variation is mainly controlled by two antagonistic loci. These QTL areas contain several candidate genes with known function in postdormancy germination in A. thaliana. The sequence variation of three genes was consistent with differential selection, and they also included fixed nonsynonymous substitutions with potential to account for the phenotypic differentiation. We further show that the divergence between the subspecies has led to a slight but significant reduction in hybrid germination proportions, indicating incipient reproductive isolation. Comparison of reciprocal F1 and F2 progenies suggests that Bateson–Dobzhansky–Muller incompatibilities likely act through uniparentally inherited factors. Examination of genomewide transmission ratio distortion further revealed that cytonuclear interactions cause substantial pregermination inviability in the hybrids. These results confirm that seed germination has adaptive potential beyond the dormancy stage and that hybrid seed inviability can be one of the first reproductive barriers to arise during divergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3484-3496
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Bateson–Dobzhansky–Muller incompatibility
  • adaptation
  • germination
  • quantitative trait loci mapping
  • speciation
  • transmission ratio distortion


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