Genetic constraints predict evolutionary divergence in Dalechampia blossoms

Geir H. Bolstad, Thomas F. Hansen, Christophe Pélabon, Mohsen Falahati-Anbaran, Rocío Pérez-Barrales, W. Scott Armbruster

Abstract

If genetic constraints are important, then rates and direction of evolution should be related to trait evolvability. Here we use recently developed measures of evolvability to test the genetic constraint hypothesis with quantitative genetic data on floral morphology from the Neotropical vine Dalechampia scandens (Euphorbiaceae). These measures were compared against rates of evolution and patterns of divergence among 24 populations in two species in the D. scandens species complex. We found clear evidence for genetic constraints, particularly among traits that were tightly phenotypically integrated. This relationship between evolvability and evolutionary divergence is puzzling, because the estimated evolvabilities seem too large to constitute real constraints. We suggest that this paradox can be explained by a combination of weak stabilizing selection around moving adaptive optima and small realized evolvabilities relative to the observed additive genetic variance.

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© 2014 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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