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Ecol Evol. 2013 Oct;3(11):3764-79. doi: 10.1002/ece3.758. Epub 2013 Sep 9.

Epigenetic patterns newly established after interspecific hybridization in natural populations of Solanum.

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Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Instituto de Biología Agrícola Mendoza (IBAM), Universidad Nacional de Cuyo A. Brown 500 (M5528AHB), Chacras de Coria, Mendoza, Argentina.


Interspecific hybridization is known for triggering genetic and epigenetic changes, such as modifications on DNA methylation patterns and impact on phenotypic plasticity and ecological adaptation. Wild potatoes (Solanum, section Petota) are adapted to multiple habitats along the Andes, and natural hybridizations have proven to be a common feature among species of this group. Solanum × rechei, a recently formed hybrid that grows sympatrically with the parental species S. kurtzianum and S. microdontum, represents an ideal model for studying the ecologically and evolutionary importance of hybridization in generating of epigenetic variability. Genetic and epigenetic variability and their correlation with morphological variation were investigated in wild and ex situ conserved populations of these three wild potato species using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and methylation-sensitive amplified polymorphism (MSAP) techniques. We observed that novel methylation patterns doubled the number of novel genetic patterns in the hybrid and that the morphological variability measured on 30 characters had a higher correlation with the epigenetic than with the genetic variability. Statistical comparison of methylation levels suggested that the interspecific hybridization induces genome demethylation in the hybrids. A Bayesian analysis of the genetic data reveled the hybrid nature of S. × rechei, with genotypes displaying high levels of admixture with the parental species, while the epigenetic information assigned S. × rechei to its own cluster with low admixture. These findings suggested that after the hybridization event, a novel epigenetic pattern was rapidly established, which might influence the phenotypic plasticity and adaptation of the hybrid to new environments.


Adaptation; DNA methylation; hybridization; wild potatoes

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