Project description:Background and aims:In the Brassicaceae family, apomictic development is characteristic of the genus Boechera. Hybridization, polyploidy and environmental adaptation that arose during the evolution of Boechera may serve as (epi)genetic regulators of apomictic initiation in this genus. Here we focus on Boechera stricta, a predominantly diploid species that reproduces sexually. However, apomictic development in this species has been reported in several studies, indicating non-obligate sexuality. Methods:A progressive investigation of flower development was conducted using three accessions to assess the reproductive system of B. stricta. We employed molecular and cyto-embryological identification using histochemistry, transmission electron microscopy and Nomarski and epifluorescence microscopy. Key Results:Data from internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and chloroplast haplotype sequencing, in addition to microsatellite variation, confirmed the B. stricta genotype for all lines. Embryological data indicated irregularities in sexual reproduction manifested by heterochronic ovule development, longevity of meiocyte and dyad stages, diverse callose accumulation during meiocyte-to-gametophyte development, and the formation of triads and tetrads in several patterns. The arabinogalactan-related sugar epitope recognized by JIM13 immunolocalized to one or more megaspores. Furthermore, pollen sterility and a high frequency of seed abortion appeared to accompany reproduction of the accession ES512, along with the initiation of parthenogenesis. Data from flow cytometric screening revealed both sexual and apomictic seed formation. Conclusion:These results imply that B. stricta is a species with an underlying ability to initiate apomixis, at least with respect to the lines examined here. The existence of apomixis in an otherwise diploid sexual B. stricta may provide the genomic building blocks for establishing highly penetrant apomictic diploids and hybrid relatives. Our findings demonstrate that apomixis per se is a variable trait upon which natural selection could act.
Project description:The expression of 30362 plant genes from uninfected flowers of Boechera stricta, uninfected steam and leaves of B. stricta and infected B. stricta with Puccinia monoica forming pseudoflowers. We hybridized cDNA from each sample to an Arabidopsis thaliana gene expression 4x72K format NimbleGen array (ATH6_60mer_expr). We used a eukaryotic gene expression array design No.5048 from NimbleGen (Cat No. A4511001-00-01). Each 5048 array measures the expression level of 30,362 target genes from Arabidopsis thaliana in a 4-plex format 4x72K with with 72,000 probes per array, a total of two probes per target gene, and 60-mer probe length. Total RNA samples recovered from infected leaves of Boechera stricta with Puccinia monoica (pseudoflowers) and uninfected stem and leaves of B. stricta. Experiments included three/two biological repllicates from each sample. We carried out total RNA extractions for all samples using RNAesy Plant Mini Kit (Qiagen, Cat No. 74904). cDNA synthesis was performed by NimbleGen.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Genomic variation is widespread, and both neutral and selective processes can generate similar patterns in the genome. These processes are not mutually exclusive, so it is difficult to infer the evolutionary mechanisms that govern population and species divergence. Boechera stricta is a perennial relative of Arabidopsis thaliana native to largely undisturbed habitats with two geographic and ecologically divergent subspecies. Here, we delineate the evolutionary processes driving the genetic diversity and population differentiation in this species. RESULTS:Using whole-genome re-sequencing data from 517 B. stricta accessions, we identify four genetic groups that diverged around 30-180 thousand years ago, with long-term small effective population sizes and recent population expansion after the Last Glacial Maximum. We find three genomic regions with elevated nucleotide diversity, totaling about 10% of the genome. These three regions of elevated nucleotide diversity show excess of intermediate-frequency alleles, higher absolute divergence (dXY), and lower relative divergence (FST) than genomic background, and significant enrichment in immune-related genes, reflecting long-term balancing selection. Scattered across the genome, we also find regions with both high FST and dXY among the groups, termed FST-islands. Population genetic signatures indicate that FST-islands with elevated divergence, which have experienced directional selection, are derived from divergent sorting of ancient polymorphisms. CONCLUSIONS:Our results suggest that long-term balancing selection on disease resistance genes may have maintained ancestral haplotypes across different geographical lineages, and unequal sorting of balanced polymorphisms may have generated genomic regions with elevated divergence. This study highlights the importance of ancestral balanced polymorphisms as crucial components of genome-wide variation.
Project description:Information about polymorphism, population structure, and linkage disequilibrium (LD) is crucial for association studies of complex trait variation. However, most genomewide studies have focused on model systems, with very few analyses of undisturbed natural populations. Here, we sequenced 86 mapped nuclear loci for a sample of 46 genotypes of Boechera stricta and two individuals of B. holboellii, both wild relatives of Arabidopsis. Isolation by distance was significant across the species range of B. stricta, and three geographic groups were identified by structure analysis, principal coordinates analysis, and distance-based phylogeny analyses. The allele frequency spectrum indicated a genomewide deviation from an equilibrium neutral model, with silent nucleotide diversity averaging 0.004. LD decayed rapidly, declining to background levels in approximately 10 kb or less. For tightly linked SNPs separated by <1 kb, LD was dependent on the reference population. LD was lower in the specieswide sample than within populations, suggesting that low levels of LD found in inbreeding species such as B. stricta, Arabidopsis thaliana, and barley may result from broad geographic sampling that spans heterogeneous genetic groups. Finally, analyses also showed that inbreeding B. stricta and A. thaliana have approximately 45% higher recombination per kilobase than outcrossing A. lyrata.
Project description:Phenotypic plasticity is thought to impact evolutionary trajectories by shifting trait values in a direction that is either favored by natural selection ("adaptive" plasticity) or disfavored ("nonadaptive" plasticity). However, it is unclear how commonly each of these types of plasticity occurs in natural populations. To answer this question, we measured glucosinolate defensive chemistry and reproductive fitness in over 1500 individuals of the wild perennial mustard Boechera stricta, planted in four common gardens across central Idaho, United States. Glucosinolate profiles-including total glucosinolate concentration as well as the relative abundances and overall diversity of different compounds-were strongly plastic both among habitats and within habitats. Patterns of glucosinolate plasticity varied greatly among genotypes. Plasticity among sites was predicted to affect fitness in 27.1% of cases; more often than expected by chance, glucosinolate plasticity increased rather than decreased relative fitness. In contrast, we found no evidence for within-habitat selection on glucosinolate reaction norm slopes (i.e., plasticity along a continuous environmental gradient). Together, our results indicate that glucosinolate plasticity may improve the ability of B. stricta populations to persist after migration to new habitats.
Project description:Ecological factors may contribute to reproductive isolation if differential local adaptation causes immigrant or hybrid fitness reduction. Because local adaptation results from the interaction between natural selection and adaptive traits, it is crucial to investigate both to understand ecological speciation. Previously, we used niche modelling to identify local water availability as an environmental correlate of incipient ecological speciation between two subspecies in Boechera stricta, a close relative of Arabidopsis. Here, we performed several large-scale glasshouse experiments to investigate the divergence of various physiological, phenological and morphological traits. Although we found no significant difference in physiological traits, the Western subspecies has significantly faster growth rate, larger leaf area, less succulent leaves, delayed reproductive time and longer flowering duration. These trait differences are concordant with previous results that habitats of the Western genotypes have more consistent water availability, while Eastern genotypes inhabit locations with more ephemeral water supplies. In addition, by comparing univariate and multivariate divergence of complex traits (Q(ST)) to the genomewide distribution of SNP FST , we conclude that the aspects of phenology and morphology (but not physiology) are under divergent selection. In addition, we also identified several highly diverged traits without obvious water-related functions.
Project description:Abiotic and biotic conditions often vary continuously across the landscape, imposing divergent selection on local populations. We used a provenance trial approach to examine microgeographic variation in local adaptation in Boechera stricta (Brassicaceae), a perennial forb native to the Rocky Mountains. In montane ecosystems, environmental conditions change considerably over short spatial scales, such that neighboring populations can be subject to different selective pressures. Using accessions from southern (Colorado) and northern (Idaho) populations, we characterized spatial variation in genetic similarity via microsatellite markers. We then transplanted genotypes from multiple local populations into common gardens in both regions. Continuous variation in local adaptation emerged for several components of fitness. In Idaho, genotypes from warmer environments (low-elevation or south-facing sites) were poorly adapted to the north-facing garden. In high- and low-elevation Colorado gardens, susceptibility to insect herbivory increased with source elevation. In the high-elevation Colorado garden, germination success peaked for genotypes that evolved at elevations similar to that of the garden and decreased for genotypes from higher and lower elevations. We also found evidence for local maladaptation in survival and fecundity components of fitness in the low-elevation Colorado garden. This approach is a first step in predicting how global change could affect evolutionary dynamics.
Project description:Plants must precisely time flowering to capitalize on favorable conditions. Although we know a great deal about the genetic basis of flowering phenology in model species under controlled conditions, the genetic architecture of this ecologically important trait is poorly understood in nonmodel organisms. Here, we evaluated the transition from vegetative growth to flowering in Boechera stricta, a perennial relative of Arabidopsis thaliana. We examined flowering time QTLs using 7920 recombinant inbred individuals, across seven laboratory and field environments differing in vernalization, temperature, and photoperiod. Genetic and environmental factors strongly influenced the transition to reproduction. We found directional selection for earlier flowering in the field. In the growth chamber experiment, longer winters accelerated flowering, whereas elevated ambient temperatures delayed flowering. Our analyses identified one large effect QTL (nFT), which influenced flowering time in the laboratory and the probability of flowering in the field. In Montana, homozygotes for the native allele at nFT showed a selective advantage of 6.6%. Nevertheless, we found relatively low correlations between flowering times in the field and the growth chambers. Additionally, we detected flowering-related QTLs in the field that were absent across the full range of laboratory conditions, thus emphasizing the need to conduct experiments in natural environments.
Project description:Hybridization is very common in plants, and the incorporation of new alleles into existing lineages (i.e. admixture) can blur species boundaries. However, admixture also has the potential to increase standing genetic variation. With new sequencing methods, we can now study admixture and reproductive isolation at a much finer scale than in the past. The genus Boechera is an extraordinary example of admixture, with over 400 hybrid derivates of varying ploidy levels. Yet, few studies have assessed admixture in this genus on a genomic scale.In this study, we used Genotyping-by-Sequencing (GBS) to clarify the evolution of the Boechera puberula clade, whose six members are scattered across the western United States. We further assessed patterns of admixture and reproductive isolation within the group, including two additional species (B. stricta and B. retrofracta) that are widespread across North America. Based on 14,815 common genetic variants, we found evidence for some cases of hybridization. We find evidence of both recent and more ancient admixture, and that levels of admixture vary across species.We present evidence for a monophyletic origin of the B. puberula group, and a split of B. puberula into two subspecies. Further, when inferring reproductive isolation on the basis of presence and absence of admixture, we found that the accumulation of reproductive isolation between species does not seem to occur linearly with time since divergence in this system. We discuss our results in the context of sexuality and asexuality in Boechera.
Project description:Differences in the timing of vegetative-to-reproductive phase transition have evolved independently and repeatedly in different plant species. Due to their specific biological functions and positions in pathways, some genes are important targets of repeated evolution - independent mutations on these genes caused the evolution of similar phenotypes in distantly related organisms. While many studies have investigated these genes, it remains unclear how gene duplications influence repeated phenotypic evolution. Here we characterized the genetic architecture underlying a novel rapid-flowering phenotype in Boechera stricta and investigated the candidate genes BsFLC1 and BsFLC2. The expression patterns of BsFLC1 suggested its function in flowering time suppression, and the deletion of BsFLC1 is associated with rapid flowering and loss of vernalization requirement. In contrast, BsFLC2 did not appear to be associated with flowering and had accumulated multiple amino acid substitutions in the relatively short evolutionary timeframe after gene duplication. These non-synonymous substitutions greatly changed the physicochemical properties of the original amino acids, concentrated non-randomly near a protein-interacting domain, and had greater substitution rate than synonymous changes. Here we suggested that, after recent gene duplication of the FLC gene, the evolution of rapid phenology was made possible by the change of BsFLC2 expression pattern or protein sequences and the deletion of BsFLC1.