Population-genomic approach reveals adaptive floral divergence in discrete populations of a hawk moth-pollinated violet

Mol Ecol. 2008 Dec;17(24):5378-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.04004.x.


Local adaptation to contrasting biotic or abiotic environments is an important evolutionary step that presumably precedes floral diversification at the species level, yet few studies have demonstrated the adaptive nature of intraspecific floral divergence in wild plant populations. We combine a population-genomic approach with phenotypic information on floral traits to examine whether the differentiation in metric floral traits exhibited by 14 populations of the southern Spanish hawk moth-pollinated violet Viola cazorlensis reflects adaptive divergence. Screening of many amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) loci using a multiple-marker-based neutrality test identified nine outlier loci (2.6% of the total) that departed from neutral expectations and were potentially under selection. Generalized analysis of molecular variance revealed significant relationships between genetic distance and population divergence in three floral traits when genetic distance was based on outlier loci, but not when it was based on neutral ones. Population means of floral traits were closely correlated with population scores on the first principal coordinate axis of the genetic distance matrix using outlier loci, and with the allelic frequencies of four of the outlier loci. Results strongly support the adaptive nature of intraspecific floral divergence exhibited by V. cazorlensis and illustrate the potential of genome scans to identify instances of adaptive divergence when used in combination with phenotypic information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics
  • Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism Analysis
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Flowers / anatomy & histology*
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Genome, Plant
  • Genomics
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable
  • Spain
  • Viola / classification
  • Viola / genetics*


  • DNA, Plant
  • Genetic Markers