Hybridization, polyploidy and clonality influence geographic patterns of diversity and salt tolerance in the model halophyte seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum)

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Abstract

In plant species, variation in levels of clonality, ploidy and interspecific hybridization can interact to influence geographic patterns of genetic diversity. These factors commonly vary in plants that specialize on saline habitats (halophytes) and may play a role in how they adapt to salinity variation across their range. One such halophyte is the turfgrass and emerging genomic model system seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum Swartz). To investigate how clonal propagation, ploidy variation, and interspecific hybridization vary across ecotypes and local salinity levels in wild P. vaginatum, we employed genotyping-by-sequencing, cpDNA sequencing and flow cytometry in 218 accessions representing > 170 wild collections from throughout the coastal southern United States plus USDA germplasm. We found that the two morphologically distinct ecotypes of P. vaginatum differ in their adaptive strategies. The fine-textured ecotype is diploid and appears to reproduce in the wild both sexually and by clonal propagation; in contrast, the coarse-textured ecotype consists largely of clonally-propagating triploid and diploid genotypes. The coarse-textured ecotype appears to be derived from hybridization between fine-textured P. vaginatum and an unidentified Paspalum species. These clonally propagating hybrid genotypes are more broadly distributed than clonal fine-textured genotypes and may represent a transition to a more generalist adaptive strategy. Additionally, the triploid genotypes vary in whether they carry one or two copies of the P. vaginatum subgenome, indicating multiple evolutionary origins. This variation in subgenome composition shows associations with local ocean salinity levels across the sampled populations and may play a role in local adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-161
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Ecology
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • halophyte
  • hybridization
  • Paspalum
  • population genomics
  • salt tolerance
  • triploid

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