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Similar traits, different genes? Examining convergent evolution in related weedy rice populations

Thurber, Carrie S., Jia, Melissa H., Jia, Yulin, Caicedo, Ana L.
Molecular ecology 2013 v.22 pp. 685
ancestry, chromosomes, convergent evolution, crossing, cultivars, domestication, genes, heading, progeny, quantitative trait loci, seed dispersal, seed dormancy, seed shattering, seeds, weeds, wild rice, United States
Convergent phenotypic evolution may or may not be associated with convergent genotypic evolution. Agricultural weeds have repeatedly been selected for weed-adaptive traits such as rapid growth, increased seed dispersal and dormancy, thus providing an ideal system for the study of convergent evolution. Here, we identify QTL underlying weedy traits and compare their genetic architecture to assess the potential for convergent genetic evolution in two distinct populations of weedy rice. F2 offspring from crosses between an indica cultivar and two individuals from genetically differentiated U.S. weedy rice populations were used to map QTL for four quantitative (heading date, seed shattering, plant height and growth rate) and two qualitative traits. We identified QTL on nine of the twelve rice chromosomes, yet most QTL locations do not overlap between the two populations. Shared QTL among weed groups were only seen for heading date, a trait for which weedy groups have diverged from their cultivated ancestors and from each other. Sharing of some QTL with wild rice also suggests a possible role in weed evolution for genes under selection during domestication. The lack of overlapping QTL for the remaining traits suggests that, despite a close evolutionary relationship, weedy rice groups have adapted to the same agricultural environment through different genetic mechanisms.