Hybridization among sympatric species of Rhododendron (Ericaceae) in Turkey: Morphological and molecular evidence

RI Milne, Richard John Abbott, K Wolff, D Chamberlain

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53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Rhododendron (Ericaceae) is a large genus in which barriers to hybridization are especially weak, but many species are maintained in sympatry. Hybridization among four species of Rhododendron subsect. Pontica, which occur in sympatry in Turkey, was investigated. Material of R. ponticum, R. smirnovii, R. ungernii, and R. caucasicum and their putative hybrids was collected from the wild. Based on morphology, chloroplast DNA and nuclear ribosomal DNA restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) profiles, each accession was identified as a species or hybrid combination. Five of the six possible hybrid combinations among the four species were detected. Rhododendron ponticum x R. smirnovii was represented by a single individual and R. caucasicum x R. smirnovii by one small group of hybrid plants. The combinations R. ponticum x R. ungernii and R. ungernii x R. smirnovii showed evidence of frequent backcrossing, while R. ponticum x R. caucasicum appeared unusual in that an intermediate hybrid type was abundant, whereas hybrids with phenotypes approaching either parent were rare. Possible explanations of this latter situation are discussed. The results suggest that natural hybridization among Rhododendron species is common and that ecological factors are important in maintaining integrity when species occur in sympatry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1776-1785
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Volume86
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

Keywords

  • diploid hybrid speciation
  • ecological isolation
  • hybridization
  • introgression
  • Rhododendron
  • RFLP
  • INTERSPECIFIC GENE FLOW
  • CHLOROPLAST DNA
  • HYBRID ZONE
  • INTROGRESSION
  • ASTERACEAE
  • ORIGIN
  • OAKS
  • SCROPHULARIACEAE
  • POPULATIONS
  • COMPOSITAE

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