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Acta Botanica Brasilica

Print version ISSN 0102-3306On-line version ISSN 1677-941X


TURCHETTO, Caroline; SCHNITZLER, Carolina K.  and  FREITAS, Loreta B.. Species boundary and extensive hybridization and introgression in Petunia. Acta Bot. Bras. [online]. 2019, vol.33, n.4, pp.724-733.  Epub Oct 07, 2019. ISSN 0102-3306.

Studying the role of hybridization in the speciation of plants is one of the most thrilling areas of evolutionary biology. Hybridization in natural populations can act in opposition to divergence, contribute to adaptation through introgression or foster the emergence of new lineages via hybrid speciation. Species of the plant genus Petunia grow in open areas in southern South America. Some natural interspecific hybrid events have been described for the genus, such as between the endemic P. exserta and the widespread P. axillaris. Both species occur in sympatry in Serra do Sudeste (Brazil), where they occur in diverse habitats and exhibit floral divergence, which has been related to the attraction of different primary pollinators. The present study evaluates the maintenance of the species boundaries front of hybridization and introgression. Direct and indirect methods of estimating gene exchange employed genotyping 720 reproductive plants and 611 progenies of both species with eight microsatellite loci. Gene exchange was found to be frequent and bidirectional between the species, indicating that introgression changes their genetic constitution in areas of sympatry. Limits of the studied species are being maintained because of the high level of inbreeding and backcrosses that are habitat-dependent.

Keywords : gene exchange; hybridization; inbreeding; introgression; microsatellite; Petunia; species limits.

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