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  1. Flowers are an important part of how many plants reproduce. Their distinctive colours, shapes and patterns attract specific pollinators, but they can also help to protect the plant from predators and environmental stresses. Many flowers contain pigments that absorb ultraviolet (UV) light to display distinct UV patterns – although invisible to the human eye, most pollinators are able to see them. For example, when seen in UV, sunflowers feature a ‘bullseye’ with a dark centre surrounded by a reflective outer ring. The sizes and thicknesses of these rings vary a lot within and between flower species, and so far, it has been unclear what causes this variation and how it affects the plants. To find out more, Todesco et al. studied the UV patterns in various wild sunflowers across North America by considering the ecology and molecular biology of different plants. This revealed great variation between the UV patterns of the different sunflower populations. Moreover, Todesco et al. found that a gene called HaMYB111 is responsible for the diverse UV patterns in the sunflowers. This gene controls how plants make chemicals called flavonols that absorb UV light. Flavonols also help to protect plants from damage caused by droughts and extreme temperatures. Todesco et al. showed that plants with larger bullseyes had more flavonols, attracted more pollinators, and were better at conserving water. Accordingly, these plants were found in drier locations. This study suggests that, at least in sunflowers, UV patterns help both to attract pollinators and to control water loss. These insights could help to improve pollination – and consequently yield – in cultivated plants, and to develop plants with better resistance to extreme weather. This work also highlights the importance of combining biology on small and large scales to understand complex processes, such as adaptation and evolution. 
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  2. null (Ed.)
  3. Highlights

    This editorial synthesizes the contribution of the articles in the special issue on plant evo‐devo to our understanding of major themes, such as the evolution of developmental signaling, the co‐option and modification of shared genetic toolkits, and the link between microevolution and macroevolution.

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  4. Abstract Determining how adaptive combinations of traits arose requires understanding the prevalence and scope of genetic constraints. Frequently observed phenotypic correlations between plant growth, defenses, and/or reproductive timing have led researchers to suggest that pleiotropy or strong genetic linkage between variants affecting independent traits is pervasive. Alternatively, these correlations could arise via independent mutations in different genes for each trait and extensive correlational selection. Here we evaluate these alternatives by conducting a quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping experiment involving a cross between 2 populations of common monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) that differ in growth rate as well as total concentration and arsenal composition of plant defense compounds, phenylpropanoid glycosides (PPGs). We find no evidence that pleiotropy underlies correlations between defense and growth rate. However, there is a strong genetic correlation between levels of total PPGs and flowering time that is largely attributable to a single shared QTL. While this result suggests a role for pleiotropy/close linkage, several other QTLs also contribute to variation in total PPGs. Additionally, divergent PPG arsenals are influenced by a number of smaller-effect QTLs that each underlie variation in 1 or 2 PPGs. This result indicates that chemical defense arsenals can be finely adapted to biotic environments despite sharing a common biochemical precursor. Together, our results show correlations between defense and life-history traits are influenced by pleiotropy or genetic linkage, but genetic constraints may have limited impact on future evolutionary responses, as a substantial proportion of variation in each trait is controlled by independent loci. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Summary

    Although it is well appreciated that genetic studies of flowering time regulation have led to fundamental advances in the fields of molecular and developmental biology, the ways in which genetic studies of flowering time diversity have enriched the field of evolutionary biology have received less attention despite often being equally profound. Because flowering time is a complex, environmentally responsive trait that has critical impacts on plant fitness, crop yield, and reproductive isolation, research into the genetic architecture and molecular basis of its evolution continues to yield novel insights into our understanding of domestication, adaptation, and speciation. For instance, recent studies of flowering time variation have reconstructed how, when, and where polygenic evolution of phenotypic plasticity proceeded from standing variation andde novomutations; shown how antagonistic pleiotropy and temporally varying selection maintain polymorphisms in natural populations; and provided important case studies of how assortative mating can evolve and facilitate speciation with gene flow. In addition, functional studies have built detailed regulatory networks for this trait in diverse taxa, leading to new knowledge about how and why developmental pathways are rewired and elaborated through evolutionary time.

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  7. Abstract

    Genetic diversity becomes structured among populations over time due to genetic drift and divergent selection. Although population structure is often treated as a uniform underlying factor, recent resequencing studies of wild populations have demonstrated that diversity in many regions of the genome may be structured quite dissimilar to the genome‐wide pattern. Here, we explored the adaptive and nonadaptive causes of such genomic heterogeneity using population‐level, whole genome resequencing data obtained from annualMimulus guttatusindividuals collected across a rugged environment landscape. We found substantial variation in how genetic differentiation is structured both within and between chromosomes, although, in contrast to other studies, known inversion polymorphisms appear to serve only minor roles in this heterogeneity. In addition, much of the genome can be clustered into eight among‐population genetic differentiation patterns, but only two of these clusters are particularly consistent with patterns of isolation by distance. By performing genotype‐environment association analysis, we also identified genomic intervals where local adaptation to specific climate factors has accentuated genetic differentiation among populations, and candidate genes in these windows indicate climate adaptation may proceed through changes affecting specialized metabolism, drought resistance, and development. Finally, by integrating our findings with previous studies, we show that multiple aspects of plant reproductive biology may be common targets of balancing selection and that variants historically involved in climate adaptation among populations have probably also fuelled rapid adaptation to microgeographic environmental variation within sites.

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  8. Summary

    Effective insect pollination requires appropriate responses to internal and external environmental cues in both the plant and the pollinator.Helianthus annuus, a highly outcrossing species, is marked for its uniform eastward orientation of mature pseudanthia, or capitula. Here we investigate how this orientation affects floral microclimate and the consequent effects on plant and pollinator interactions and reproductive fitness.

    We artificially manipulated sunflower capitulum orientation and temperature in both field and controlled conditions and assessed flower physiology, pollinator visits, seed traits and siring success.

    East‐facing capitula were found to have earlier style elongation, pollen presentation and pollinator visits compared with capitula manipulated to face west. East‐facing capitula also sired more offspring than west‐facing capitula and under some conditions produced heavier and better‐filled seeds. Local ambient temperature change on the capitulum was found to be a key factor regulating the timing of style elongation, pollen emergence and pollinator visits.

    These results indicate that eastward capitulum orientation helps to control daily rhythms in floral temperature, with direct consequences on the timing of style elongation and pollen emergence, pollinator visitation, and plant fitness.

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