J Syst Evol ›› 2016, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (1): 17-28.doi: 10.1111/jse.12177

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Utility of closely related taxa for genetic studies of adaptive variation and speciation: Current state and perspectives in plants with focus on forest tree species

Weronika B. Żukowska1* and Witold Wachowiak1,2   

  1. 1Institute of Dendrology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Parkowa 5, 62-035 Kórnik, Poland
    2Institute of Environmental Biology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Umultowska 89, 61-614 Poznań, Poland
  • Received:2015-04-12 Online:2015-08-22 Published:2016-01-14

Abstract: Studies of adaptation and speciation have greatly benefited from rapid progress of DNA sequencing and genotyping technologies. Comparative genomics of closely related taxa has great potential to advance evolutionary research on genetic architecture of adaptive traits and reproductive isolation. Such studies that utilized closely related plant species and ecotypes have already provided some important insights into genomic regions and/or genes that are potentially involved in local adaptation and speciation. The choice of an appropriate species model for such research is crucial. The paper discusses current approaches used to reveal the patterns of intra- and interspecific divergence due to natural selection. Its outcomes in herbaceous plants and forest trees are briefly summarized and compared to reveal general regularities concerning evolutionary processes. We then highlight the importance of multispecies studies and discuss the utility of several related pine taxa as fine candidates for evolutionary inferences. Genetically similar but ecologically and phenotypically diverged taxa seem a promising study system to search for genomic patterns of speciation and adaptive variation.

Key words: adaptation, divergence, genetic variation, natural selection, Pinus mugo, P. sylvestris

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