Thursday, 26 May 2016

Past selection explains differentiation in flowering phenology of nearby populations of a common alpine plant

Volume 125, Issue 2, 14 September 2015, Pages 113-124

Department of Environmental Sciences, Section Plant Ecology, University of Basel, Schönbeinstrasse 6, Basel, Switzerland


The timing of and relative investment in reproductive events are crucial fitness determinants for alpine plants, which have limited opportunities for reproduction in the cold and short growing seasons at high elevations. We use the alpine Anthyllis vulneraria to study whether flowering phenology and reproductive allocation have been under diversifying selection, and to assess genetic diversity and plastic responses to drought in these traits. Open-pollinated maternal families from three populations in each of two regions from the Swiss Alps with contrasting precipitation were grown in low and high soil moisture in a common garden. We measured onset, peak, and end of flowering, as well as vegetative and reproductive aboveground biomass. Population differentiation for each character (QST) was compared to differentiation at neutral microsatellite loci (FST) to test for past selection. We found population differentiation in onset and peak of flowering which results from natural selection according to QST–FST. End of flowering and biomass were not significantly differentiated among populations. Reduced soil moisture had no consistent effect on mean onset of flowering, and advanced peak and end of flowering by less than 1 week. Reproductive biomass was strongly decreased by lowered soil moisture. No genetic variation within or among populations was found for plasticity in any trait measured. The results suggest past heterogeneous selection on onset and peak of flowering in alpine Anthyllis vulneraria and potentially indicate local adaptation to differences in snowmelt date over distances <5 km. Limited variation in plastic responses to reduced soil moisture suggests that soil moisture might not vary between populations. © 2015, Swiss Botanical Society.

Author keywords

Drought; Local adaptation; Phenotypic plasticity; QST–FST comparison

Indexed keywords

GEOBASE Subject Index: aboveground biomass; alpine environment; flowering; genetic variation; heterogeneity; local adaptation; medicinal plant; natural selection; phenology; phenotypic plasticity; precipitation (climatology); reproduction; soil moisture
Species Index: Anthyllis vulneraria
ISSN: 16642201Source Type: Journal Original language: English
DOI: 10.1007/s00035-015-0157-zDocument Type: Article
Publisher: Birkhauser Verlag AG

  Kesselring, H.; Department of Environmental Sciences, Section Plant Ecology, University of Basel, Schönbeinstrasse 6, Switzerland
© Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.