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  1. Synopsis

    The genus Agave is an ecological keystone of American deserts and both culturally and economically important in Mexico. Agave is a large genus of about 250 species. The radiation of Agave is marked by an initial adaptation to desert environments and then a secondary diversification of species associated with pollinator groups, such as hummingbirds and nocturnal moths. Phylogenetic analyses place Agave subgenus Manfreda, or the “herbaceous agaves,” in a monophyletic clade that likely evolved in part as an adaptation to novel pollination vectors. Here, we present a morphological and observational study assessing the evolution of floral form in response to pollinator specialization within this understudied group. We found significant visitation by hummingbirds and nocturnal moths to several species within the Agave subgenus Manfreda. These observations also align with our morphological analyses of floral organs and support the evolution of distinct pollination syndromes. We found that not all floral morphology is consistent within a pollination syndrome, suggesting hidden diversity in the evolution of floral phenotypes in Agave. We also characterize the morphological variation between herbarium and live specimens, demonstrating that special consideration needs to be made when combining these types of data. This work identifies the potential for studying the functional evolution of diverse floral forms within Agave and demonstrates the need to further explore ecological and evolutionary relationships to understand pollinator influence on diversification in the genus.

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  2. Summary

    Allopolyploids result from hybridization between different evolutionary lineages coupled with genome doubling. Homoeologous chromosomes (chromosomes with common shared ancestry) may undergo recombination immediately after allopolyploid formation and continue over successive generations. The outcome of this meiotic pairing behavior is dynamic and complex. Homoeologous exchanges (HEs) may lead to the formation of unbalanced gametes, reduced fertility, and selective disadvantage. By contrast, HEs could act as sources of novel evolutionary substrates, shifting the relative dosage of parental gene copies, generating novel phenotypic diversity, and helping the establishment of neo‐allopolyploids. However, HE patterns vary among lineages, across generations, and even within individual genomes and chromosomes. The causes and consequences of this variation are not fully understood, though interest in this evolutionary phenomenon has increased in the last decade. Recent technological advances show promise in uncovering the mechanistic basis of HEs. Here, we describe recent observations of the common patterns among allopolyploid angiosperm lineages, underlying genomic and epigenomic features, and consequences of HEs. We identify critical research gaps and discuss future directions with far‐reaching implications in understanding allopolyploid evolution and applying them to the development of important phenotypic traits of polyploid crops.

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  3. Abstract The large size and complexity of most fern genomes have hampered efforts to elucidate fundamental aspects of fern biology and land plant evolution through genome-enabled research. Here we present a chromosomal genome assembly and associated methylome, transcriptome and metabolome analyses for the model fern species Ceratopteris richardii . The assembly reveals a history of remarkably dynamic genome evolution including rapid changes in genome content and structure following the most recent whole-genome duplication approximately 60 million years ago. These changes include massive gene loss, rampant tandem duplications and multiple horizontal gene transfers from bacteria, contributing to the diversification of defence-related gene families. The insertion of transposable elements into introns has led to the large size of the Ceratopteris genome and to exceptionally long genes relative to other plants. Gene family analyses indicate that genes directing seed development were co-opted from those controlling the development of fern sporangia, providing insights into seed plant evolution. Our findings and annotated genome assembly extend the utility of Ceratopteris as a model for investigating and teaching plant biology. 
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  4. Premise

    Joshua trees (Yucca brevifoliaandY. jaegeriana) and their yucca moth pollinators (Tegeticula syntheticaandT. antithetica) are a model system for studies of plant–pollinator coevolution and, they are thought to be one of the only cases in which there is compelling evidence for cospeciation driven by coevolution. Previous work attempted to evaluate whether divergence between the plant and their pollinators was contemporaneous. That work concluded that the trees diverged more than 5 million years ago—well before the pollinators. However, clear inferences were hampered by a lack of data from the nuclear genome and low genetic variation in chloroplast genes. As a result, divergence times in the trees could not be confidently estimated.


    We present an analysis of whole chloroplast genome sequence data and RADseq data from >5000 loci in the nuclear genome. We developed a molecular clock for the Asparagales and the Agavoideae using multiple fossil calibration points. Using Bayesian inference, we produced new estimates for the age of the genusYuccaand for Joshua trees. We used calculated summary statistics describing genetic variation and used coalescent‐based methods to estimate population genetic parameters.


    We find that the Joshua trees are moderately genetically differentiated, but that they diverged quite recently (~100–200 kya), and much more recently than their pollinators.


    The results argue against the notion that coevolution directly contributed to speciation in this system, suggesting instead that coevolution with pollinators may have reinforced reproductive isolation following initial divergence in allopatry.

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  5. Abstract

    The grass tribe Andropogoneae (Poaceae—Panicoideae) includes several important crops such as maize, sugarcane, and sorghum, and dominates the tropical grasslands of the world. We present here a plastome phylogeny of the tribe with the largest sample of genera to date (about 73%), including 65 newly assembled plastomes, together with a broad biogeographic analysis of Andropogoneae. Major relationships found in previous phylogenetic studies were confirmed here, with most nodes having higher resolution and support, including those of the backbone of the tree, which had been a major problem in previous phylogenies of the tribe. Our dated tree suggests that Andropogoneae diverged from Arundinelleae in the Early Miocene, while the “core Andropogoneae” clade originated in the Late Miocene. The tribe originated in East Asia, but intercontinental dispersal has been common, with many independent dispersal events to Africa and the New World. Based on the plastome phylogeny, we propose here a new classification of Andropogoneae as most of its previously accepted subtribes are not monophyletic. Our classification comprises 14 subtribes, 92 genera, and ∼1224 species. About 90% of the Andropogoneae species could be assigned to a subtribe, which represents a major step toward clarification of the taxonomy of the tribe. The remaining taxa were placedincertae sedispending additional molecular data. The new subtribes Chrysopogoninae and Rhytachninae are described herein. Our plastome trees also indicate that several Andropogoneae genera are para‐ or polyphyletic and require additional studies to define their circumscriptions.

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