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Genetics. 2005 Apr;169(4):2225-39. Epub 2004 Nov 15.

Genetics of species differences in the wild annual sunflowers, Helianthus annuus and H. petiolaris.

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Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UK.


Much of our knowledge of speciation genetics stems from quantitative trait locus (QTL) studies. However, interpretations of the size and distribution of QTL underlying species differences are complicated by differences in the way QTL magnitudes are estimated. Also, many studies fail to exploit information about QTL directions or to compare inter- and intraspecific QTL variation. Here, we comprehensively analyze an extensive QTL data set for an interspecific backcross between two wild annual sunflowers, Helianthus annuus and H. petiolaris, interpret different estimates of QTL magnitudes, identify trait groups that have diverged through selection, and compare inter- and intraspecific QTL magnitudes. Our results indicate that even minor QTL (in terms of backcross variance) may be surprisingly large compared to levels of standing variation in the parental species or phenotypic differences between them. Morphological traits, particularly flower morphology, were more strongly or consistently selected than life history or physiological traits. Also, intraspecific QTL were generally smaller than interspecific ones, consistent with the prediction that larger QTL are more likely to spread to fixation across a subdivided population. Our results inform the genetics of species differences in Helianthus and suggest an approach for the simultaneous mapping of inter- and intraspecific QTL.

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