Similar Genetic Mechanisms Underlie the Parallel Evolution of Floral Phenotypes
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CitationZhang, Wenheng, Elena M. Kramer, and Charles C. Davis. 2012. Similar genetic mechanisms underlie the parallel evolution of floral phenotypes. PLoS ONE 7(4): e36033.
AbstractThe repeated origin of similar phenotypes is invaluable for studying the underlying genetics of adaptive traits; molecular evidence, however, is lacking for most examples of such similarity. The floral morphology of neotropical Malpighiaceae is distinctive and highly conserved, especially with regard to symmetry, and is thought to result from specialization on oil-bee pollinators. We recently demonstrated that CYCLOIDEA2–like genes (CYC2A and CYC2B) are associated with the development of the stereotypical floral zygomorphy that is critical to this plant–pollinator mutualism. Here, we build on this developmental framework to characterize floral symmetry in three clades of Malpighiaceae that have independently lost their oil bee association and experienced parallel shifts in their floral morphology, especially in regard to symmetry. We show that in each case these species exhibit a loss of CYC2B function, and a strikingly similar shift in the expression of CYC2A that is coincident with their shift in floral symmetry. These results indicate that similar floral phenotypes in this large angiosperm clade have evolved via parallel genetic changes from an otherwise highly conserved developmental program.
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