New publication: Genomic analyses suggest parallel ecological divergence in Heliosperma pusillum (Caryophyllaceae)

By Emiliano Trucchi1, Božo Frajman2, Thomas H. A. Haverkamp*, Peter Schönswetter2, Ovidiu Paun2


The mosaic distribution of interbreeding taxa with contrasting ecology and morphology offers an opportunity to study microevolutionary dynamics during ecological divergence. We investigate here the evolutionary history of an alpine and a montane ecotype of Heliosperma pusillum (Caryophyllaceae) in the south-eastern Alps.

From six pairs of geographically close populations of the two ecotypes (120 individuals) we obtained a high-coverage restriction site associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) dataset that was used for demographic inference to test the hypothesis of parallel evolution of the two ecotypes.

The data are consistent with repeated ecological divergence in H. pusillum, uncovering up to five polytopic origins of one ecotype from the other. A complex evolutionary history is evidenced, with local isolation-with-migration in two population pairs and intra-ecotype migration in two others. In all cases, the time of divergence or secondary contact was inferred as postglacial. A metagenomic analysis on exogenous contaminant RAD sequences suggests divergent microbial communities between the ecotypes.

The lack of shared genomic regions of high divergence across population pairs illustrates the action of drift and/or local selection in shaping genetic divergence across repeated cases of ecological divergence.


New Phytologist

First published: 7 August 2017

DOI: 10.1111/nph.14722

Publication website


1 Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria and Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

2 Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

* Department of Biosciences, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Published Aug. 17, 2017 3:03 PM - Last modified Nov. 20, 2017 1:01 PM