Differential adaptation drives ecological speciation in campions (Silene): evidence from a multi-site transplant experiment

New Phytol. 2017 Feb;213(3):1487-1499. doi: 10.1111/nph.14202. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


In order to investigate the role of differential adaptation for the evolution of reproductive barriers, we conducted a multi-site transplant experiment with the dioecious sister species Silene dioica and S. latifolia and their hybrids. Crosses within species as well as reciprocal first-generation (F1 ) and second-generation (F2 ) interspecific hybrids were transplanted into six sites, three within each species' habitat. Survival and flowering were recorded over 4 yr. At all transplant sites, the local species outperformed the foreign species, reciprocal F1 hybrids performed intermediately and F2 hybrids underperformed in comparison to F1 hybrids (hybrid breakdown). Females generally had slightly higher cumulative fitness than males in both within- and between-species crosses and we thus found little evidence for Haldane's rule acting on field performance. The strength of selection against F1 and F2 hybrids as well as hybrid breakdown increased with increasing strength of habitat adaptation (i.e. the relative fitness difference between the local and the foreign species) across sites. Our results suggest that differential habitat adaptation led to ecologically dependent post-zygotic reproductive barriers and drives divergence and speciation in this Silene system.

Keywords: Silene dioica; Silene latifolia; Haldane's rule; dioecy; habitat adaptation; hybrid breakdown; reproductive isolation; sex ratio.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Ecosystem*
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Genetic Fitness
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Models, Biological
  • Sex Ratio
  • Silene / genetics*
  • Silene / physiology*