J Syst Evol

• Research Article •    

Continuous genetic adaptation to high elevations of alpine bamboos in the Hengduan Mountains, Southwest China

Li‐Ying Luo1,2, Gui‐Hua Jin1, Peng‐Fei Ma1*, and De‐Zhu Li1*   

  1. 1 Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, and Yunnan Key Laboratory of Crop Wild Relatives Omics, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, Yunnan, China;
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    *Author for correspondence. E‐mail: mapengfei@mail.kib.ac.cn, dzl@mail.kib.ac.cn
  • Received:2023-07-20 Accepted:2023-11-01 Online:2023-12-05

Abstract: Many examples of phenotypic modifications resulting from high-elevation adaptation have been documented, however, the underlying processes responsible for these modifications and whether the continuity of the adaptation process remain elusive, particularly in plants. The alpine plants distributed along wide elevational gradients provide an ideal system to address this question. Here, we collected transcriptomes from multiple tissues of three species with different elevations (~1500, ~2500, and ~3600 m in the Hengduan Mountains, Southwest China) in two genera Fargesia and Yushania of alpine bamboos, respectively, and conducted evolutionary and expressional analyses. Results showed that high-elevation adaptation emerged earlier in the evolutionary history of both genera and evolved continuously as the elevation increased. Moreover, convergence of genetic changes was observed in the two genera, with amounts of candidate genes responsible for high-elevation adaptation identified under positive selection. Overall, our study provides an empirical example and valuable genetic resource for further investigation of high-elevation adaptation in plants and sheds new light on how plants adapting to high-elevation environments in a biodiversity hotspot.

Key words: alpine bamboos, continuum evolution, Hengduan Mountains, high-elevation adaptation, transcriptome