Ancient introgression drives adaptation to cooler and drier mountain habitats in a cypress species complex

Yazhen Ma, Ji Wang, Quanjun Hu, Jialiang Li, Yongshuai Sun, Lei Zhang, Richard John Abbott, Jianquan Liu, Kanghan Mao

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63 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Introgression may act as an important source of new genetic variation to facilitate the adaptation of organisms to new environments, yet how introgression might enable tree species to adapt to higher latitudes and elevations remains unclear. Applying whole-transcriptome sequencing and population genetic analyses, we present an example of ancient introgression from a cypress species (Cupressus gigantea) that occurs at higher latitude and elevation on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau into a related species (C. duclouxiana), which has likely aided the latter species to extend its range by colonizing cooler and drier mountain habitats during postglacial periods. We show that 16 introgressed candidate adaptive loci could have played pivotal roles in response to diverse stresses experienced in a high-elevation environment. Our findings provide new insights into the evolutionary history of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau plants and the importance of introgression in the adaptation of species to climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number213
Number of pages12
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019

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