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Trends Genet. 2011 Jul;27(7):258-66. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2011.04.001.

Evolutionary genetics of plant adaptation.

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  • 1Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, Department of Biology, Duke University, P.O. Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


Plants provide unique opportunities to study the mechanistic basis and evolutionary processes of adaptation to diverse environmental conditions. Complementary laboratory and field experiments are important for testing hypotheses reflecting long-term ecological and evolutionary history. For example, these approaches can infer whether local adaptation results from genetic tradeoffs (antagonistic pleiotropy), where native alleles are best adapted to local conditions, or if local adaptation is caused by conditional neutrality at many loci, where alleles show fitness differences in one environment, but not in a contrasting environment. Ecological genetics in natural populations of perennial or outcrossing plants can also differ substantially from model systems. In this review of the evolutionary genetics of plant adaptation, we emphasize the importance of field studies for understanding the evolutionary dynamics of model and nonmodel systems, highlight a key life history trait (flowering time) and discuss emerging conservation issues.

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