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Evolution. 2006 Jun;60(6):1187-97.

The evolution of California's wild radish has resulted in the extinction of its progenitors.

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  • 1Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, California 92521, USA.


If two previously isolated taxa mutually assimilate through hybridization and subsequent biparental introgression, and if their introgressed descendants have the same or higher fitness than their parents, then gene flow should result in the local extinction of parental taxa via replacement by hybrid derivatives. These dramatic events may occur rapidly, even in a few generations. Given the speed at which such extinction by hybridization may occur, it may be difficult to identify that the process has occurred. Thus, documented instances of extinction by hybridization are rare, and especially so for cases in which both parents are replaced by the hybrid lineage. Here we report morphological and allozyme evidence for the local extinction of two Raphanus species in California via replacement by their hybrid-derived descendants. The results from a greenhouse experiment demonstrate that California wild radishes have a specific combination of traits from their progenitors, and comparison of our results to that of an earlier report indicate that pure parental types are no longer present in the wild. Our results also show the hybrid-derived lineage has transgressive fruit weight compared to its parents. Allozyme analysis demonstrates that California wild radishes are derived from hybridization between the putative parental species. However, that analysis also demonstrates that California wild radish has now become an evolutionary entity separate from both of its parents. We suggest that the aggressive colonizing behavior of the hybrid-derived lineage probably results from a novel combination of parental traits, rather than genetic variability of the population per se.

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