Pervasive hybridization during evolutionary radiation of Rhododendron subgenus Hymenanthes in mountains of southwest China
ID: 613 / 238
Proposed Symposium Title: Pervasive hybridization during evolutionary radiation of Rhododendron subgenus Hymenanthes in mountains of southwest China
Jianquan Liu1,2, Richard Milne3, Quanjun Hu2, Yazheng Ma2, Xingxing Mao2, Ji Wang2
Affiliations: 1 College of Ecology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China 2 College of Life Science, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064, China 3 Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JH, UK
Radiations are especially important for generating species biodiversity in mountainous ecosystems. The contribution of hybridization to such radiations has rarely been examined. Here, we use extensive genomic data to test whether hybridization was involved in evolutionary radiation within Rhododendron subgenus Hymenanthes, whose members show strong geographic isolation in the mountains of southwest China. We sequenced genomes for 143 species of this subgenus and 93 species of four other subgenera, and found that Hymenanthes was monophyletic and radiated during the late Oligocene to middle Miocene. Widespread hybridization events were inferred within and between the identified clades and subclades. This suggests that hybridization occurred both early and late during diversification of subgenus Hymenanthes, although the extent to which hybridization, speciation through mixing-isolation-mixing or hybrid speciation, accelerated the diversification needs further exploration. Cycles of isolation and contact in such and other montane ecosystems may have together promoted species radiation through hybridization between diverging populations and species. Similar radiation processes may apply to other montane floras in this region and elsewhere.