Data from: Reticulate evolution within a spruce (Picea) species complex revealed by population genomic analysis

  • Yongshuai Sun (Creator)
  • Richard J. Abbott (University of St Andrews) (Creator)
  • Zhiqiang Lu (Creator)
  • Kangshan Mao (Creator)
  • Lei Zhang (Creator)
  • Xiaojuan Wang (Creator)
  • Dafu Ru (Creator)
  • Jianquan Liu (Creator)



The role of reticulation in the rapid diversification of organisms is attracting greater attention in evolutionary biology. Here, we report a population genomics approach to test the role of hybridization and introgression in the evolution of the Picea likiangensis species complex. Based on 84,793 SNPs detected in transcriptomes of 82 trees collected from 35 localities, we identified 18 hybrids (including backcrosses) distributed within the range boundaries of the four taxa. Coalescent simulations, for each pair of taxa and for all taxa taken together, rejected several tree-like divergence models and supported instead a reticulate evolution model with secondary contacts occurring during Pleistocene glacial cycles after initial divergence in the late Pliocene. Significant gene flow occurred among some taxa after secondary contact according to an analysis based on modified ABBA-BABA statistics that accommodated a rapid diversification scenario. A novel finding was that introgression between certain taxa can contribute to increasing divergence (and possibly reproductive isolation) between those taxa and other taxa within a complex at some loci. These results illuminate the reticulate nature of evolution within the P. likiangensis complex and highlight the value of population genomic data in detecting the effects of introgression in the rapid diversification of related taxa.
Date made available2018
Geographical coverageHengduan-Himalayan mountains

Cite this