Evolutionary Paths Underlying Flower Color Variation in Antirrhinum

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Abstract

To understand evolutionary paths connecting diverse biological forms, we defined a three-dimensional genotypic space separating two flower color morphs of Antirrhinum. A hybrid zone between morphs showed a steep cline specifically at genes controlling flower color differences, indicating that these loci are under selection. Antirrhinum species with diverse floral phenotypes formed a U-shaped cloud within the genotypic space. We propose that this cloud defines an evolutionary path that allows flower color to evolve while circumventing less-adaptive regions. Hybridization between morphs located in different arms of the U-shaped path yields low-fitness genotypes, accounting for the observed steep clines at hybrid zones.

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