J Syst Evol

• Research Articles •    

Morphological divergence and the Quaternary speciation of Actaea purpurea (Ranunculaceae) and its relatives

Xiao‐Peng Chang, Jiu‐Dong Zhang, Xiao‐Fei Li, Lei Huang , Xian‐Hua Tian, Yi Ren, and Jian‐Qiang Zhang*   

  1. College of Life Sciences, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710119, China
  • Received:2020-01-15 Accepted:2020-07-24 Online:2020-07-30

Abstract:

To understand the process and mechanism of speciation, a detailed analysis of origin and demographic history of recently diverged species pairs is necessary. Here, we investigate the evolutionary history of Actaea purpurea (P.K. Hsiao) J. Compton and its closest relatives, A. japonica Thunb. and A. biternata (Siebold and Zuccarini) Prantl. We aim to estimate important parameters of the divergence event, and to lay the foundation for further investigation of the speciation mechanism of this system. Floral and vegetative traits were measured and analyzed. Genetic structure, divergence history, and historical gene flow were also inferred from the plastid and single nucleotide polymorphism data. Floral traits were divergent, and a strong match between pollinator and floral traits was revealed. Genetically the two species were also well diverged, and the time of divergence was dated to the Pleistocene. The demographic modelling results suggest that A. purpurea had continuous limited gene flow with A. japonica and A. biternata since divergence. More work is now needed to confirm that floral trait divergence was selected by pollinators, as well as to understand how pollinator isolation acts in conjunction with other reproductive barriers to reduce gene flow between the two species.

Key words: Actaea japonica, Actaea purpurea, ecological speciation, gene flow, pollinator-driven speciation