Trait covariation: Structural and functional relationships in plant ecology
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The origin of Helianthus deserticola: survival and selection in a desert habitat
B. L. GROSS, N. C. KANE, C. LEXER, L. H. RIESEBERG
Department of Biology, Indiana University, Jordan Hall 142, 1001 East Third Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
The diploid hybrid species Helianthus deserticola inhabits an extreme environment relative to its parental species H. annuus and H. petiolaris. Adaptation to the arid desert floor may have occurred via the acquisition of novel phenotypes resulting from transgressive segregation in early hybrids. We have explored this possibility through a field experiment designed to test the direction and intensity of phenotypic selection, using crosses between the parental species as proxies for the ancestral genotype of the ancient hybrid species. Helianthus deserticola, H. annuus, H. petiolaris, and early-generation hybrids between H. annuus and H. petiolaris were all grown in native H. deserticola habitat, and a selection analysis revealed that several traits were subject to strong selective pressures. Several of the traits under selection were also extreme or transgressive in H. deserticola, and the range of variation present in BC2 hybrids suggests that many aspects of the H. deserticola phenotype are easily recreated. Thus, transgressive segregation may have contributed to the adaptation of H. deserticola to the desert habitat.