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Title: Ancient hybridization leads to the repeated evolution of red flowers across a monkeyflower radiation

The reuse of old genetic variation can promote rapid diversification in evolutionary radiations, but in most cases, the historical events underlying this divergence are not known. For example, ancient hybridization can generate new combinations of alleles that sort into descendant lineages, potentially providing the raw material to initiate divergence. In the Mimulus aurantiacus species complex, there is evidence for widespread gene flow among members of this radiation. In addition, allelic variation in the MaMyb2 gene is responsible for differences in flower color between the closely related ecotypes of subspecies puniceus, contributing to reproductive isolation by pollinators. Previous work suggested that MaMyb2 was introgressed into the red-flowered ecotype of puniceus. However, additional taxa within the radiation have independently evolved red flowers from their yellow-flowered ancestors, raising the possibility that this introgression had a more ancient origin. In this study, we used repeated tests of admixture from whole-genome sequence data across this diverse radiation to demonstrate that there has been both ancient and recurrent hybridization in this group. However, most of the signal of this ancient introgression has been removed due to selection, suggesting that widespread barriers to gene flow are in place between taxa. Yet, a roughly 30 kb region that contains the MaMyb2 gene is currently shared only among the red-flowered taxa. Patterns of admixture, sequence divergence, and extended haplotype homozygosity across this region confirm a history of ancient hybridization, where functional variants have been preserved due to positive selection in red-flowered taxa but lost in their yellow-flowered counterparts. The results of this study reveal that selection against gene flow can reduce genomic signatures of ancient hybridization, but that historical introgression can provide essential genetic variation that facilitates the repeated evolution of phenotypic traits between lineages.

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Oxford University Press
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Journal Name:
Evolution Letters
Medium: X Size: p. 293-304
["p. 293-304"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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