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Revisiting a classic case of introgression: hybridization and gene flow in Californian sunflowers

Owens, Gregory L., Baute, Gregory J., Rieseberg, Loren H.
Molecular ecology 2016 v.25 no.11 pp. 2630-2643
Helianthus annuus, gene flow, genome, genotyping, hybrids, indigenous species, introgression, invasive species, population structure, serpentine, soil, California
During invasion, colonizing species can hybridize with native species, potentially swamping out native genomes. However, theory predicts that introgression will often be biased into the invading species. Thus, empirical estimates of gene flow between native and invasive species are important to quantify the actual threat of hybridization with invasive species. One classic example of introgression occurs in California, where Helianthus bolanderi was thought to be a hybrid between the serpentine endemic Helianthus exilis and the congeneric invader Helianthus annuus. We used genotyping by sequencing to look for signals of introgression and population structure. We find that H. bolanderi and H. exilis form one genetic clade, with weak population structure that is associated with geographic location rather than soil composition and likely represent a single species, not two. Additionally, while our results confirmed early molecular analysis and failed to support the hybrid origin of H. bolanderi, we did find evidence for introgression mainly into the invader H. annuus, as predicted by theory.