University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars > Integrating phylogenetics, ecology and evo-devo to understand the origin of plant species: the role of spur length evolution in speciation of the genus Linaria

Integrating phylogenetics, ecology and evo-devo to understand the origin of plant species: the role of spur length evolution in speciation of the genus Linaria

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Floral nectar spurs are considered a key innovation promoting diversification in angiosperms. Spurs are tubular outgrowths of floral organs containing a nectar reward for pollinators. It is hypothesized that they mediate reproductive isolation by promoting pollinator specialization. We are aplying a multidisciplinary (phylogenetics, pollination ecology, evolutionary developmental biology) and multi-scale (genera, species, populations) approach to understand the evolution of nectar spurs and their role in speciation in the tribe Antirrhineae (Plantaginaceae; c. 330 species). Phylogenetic comparative methods are used to estimate the correlation between nectar spur evolution and speciation rates of Antirrhineae. Ancestral state reconstructions indicate three to four acquisitions of nectar spurs in the course of Antirrhineae evolution, including that in the most successful genus Linaria (c. 160 species). In particular, we are investigating mechanisms of speciation and spur evolution in a recently-diversified clade formed by eight species of Linaria that display wide variation in spur length. Phylogenetic relationships are resolved using next-generation sequencing techniques (genotyping-by-sequencing). The relative roles of pollinators and other isolating factors (including habitat isolation) are quantified, and the ontogenetic and genetic basis of spur length variation and evolution is investigated using an evo-devo approach.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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