Data from: Genetic and epigenetic variations associated with adaptation to heterogeneous habitat conditions in a deciduous shrub
Lele, Liu et al. (2019), Data from: Genetic and epigenetic variations associated with adaptation to heterogeneous habitat conditions in a deciduous shrub, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.15fn7
Environmentally induced phenotypic plasticity is thought to play an important role in the adaption of plant populations to heterogeneous habitat conditions, and yet the importance of epigenetic variation as a mechanism of adaptive plasticity in natural plant populations still merits further research. In this study, we investigated populations of Vitex negundo var. heterophylla (Chinese chastetree) from adjacent habitat types at seven sampling sites. Using several functional traits, we detected a significant differentiation between habitat types. With amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) and methylation-sensitive AFLP (MSAP), we found relatively high levels of genetic and epigenetic diversity but very low genetic and epigenetic differences between habitats within sites. Bayesian clustering showed a remarkable habitat-related differentiation and more genetic loci associated with the habitat type than epigenetic, suggesting that the adaptation to the habitat is genetically based. However, we did not find any significant correlation between genetic or epigenetic variation and habitat using simple and partial Mantel tests. Moreover, we found no correlation between genetic and ecologically relevant phenotypic variation and a significant correlation between epigenetic and phenotypic variation. Although we did not find any direct relationship between epigenetic variation and habitat environment, our findings suggest that epigenetic variation may complement genetic variation as a source of functional phenotypic diversity associated with adaptation to the heterogeneous habitat in natural plant populations.