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Genetics. 1999 Oct;153(2):965-77.

Genetic architecture of species differences in annual sunflowers: implications for adaptive trait introgression.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.


Genetic architecture may profoundly influence the ability of adaptive traits to spread between species via introgressive hybridization. Here, we examine the genomic location of quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with pollen sterility and morphological traits distinguishing two annual sunflowers, Helianthus annuus and H. debilis ssp. cucumerifolius. These species are of particular interest since they hybridize naturally, and the form of H. annuus in Texas (called ssp. texanus) is thought to have arisen through introgression. Analysis of 226 BC(1) progeny from a cross between H. annuus and H. debilis revealed 56 QTL for 15 morphological traits and 2 QTL for pollen sterility. Four morphological QTL are tightly linked (<10 cM) to one or more sterility factors and 7 are closely allied with underrepresented and presumably negatively selected chromosomal blocks. Although these 11 QTL seem unlikely to move between the species, no barrier to introgression was detected for the remaining 45 morphological QTL. In fact, due to widespread pleiotropy (or tight linkage), the introgression of just three small chromosomal blocks appears sufficient to largely recover the phenotype of ssp. texanus. Subsequent work will test for the occurrence and fitness consequences of the identified QTL in natural populations of ssp. texanus.

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