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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 23;108(34):14360-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1104853108. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Sunflower domestication alleles support single domestication center in eastern North America.

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


Phylogenetic analyses of genes with demonstrated involvement in evolutionary transitions can be an important means of resolving conflicting hypotheses about evolutionary history or process. In sunflower, two genes have previously been shown to have experienced selective sweeps during its early domestication. In the present study, we identified a third candidate early domestication gene and conducted haplotype analyses of all three genes to address a recent, controversial hypothesis about the origin of cultivated sunflower. Although the scientific consensus had long been that sunflower was domesticated once in eastern North America, the discovery of pre-Columbian sunflower remains at archaeological sites in Mexico led to the proposal of a second domestication center in southern Mexico. Previous molecular studies with neutral markers were consistent with the former hypothesis. However, only two indigenous Mexican cultivars were included in these studies, and their provenance and genetic purity have been questioned. Therefore, we sequenced regions of the three candidate domestication genes containing SNPs diagnostic for domestication from large, newly collected samples of Mexican sunflower landraces and Mexican wild populations from a broad geographic range. The new germplasm also was genotyped for 12 microsatellite loci. Our evidence from multiple evolutionarily important loci and from neutral markers supports a single domestication event for extant cultivated sunflower in eastern North America.

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