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Correlates of hybridization in plants

Citation

Mitchell, Nora et al. (2021), Correlates of hybridization in plants, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q83bk3jdd

Abstract

Hybridization is a biological phenomenon increasingly recognized as an important evolutionary process in both plants and animals, as it is linked to speciation, radiation, extinction, range expansion and invasion, and allows for increased trait diversity in agricultural and horticultural systems. Estimates of hybridization frequency vary across taxonomic groups, and previous work has demonstrated that some plant groups hybridize more frequently than others. Here, we ask on a global scale whether hybridization is linked to any of 11 traits related to plant life history, reproduction, genetic predisposition, and environment or opportunity. Given that hybridization is not evenly distributed across the plant tree of life, we use phylogenetic generalized least squares regression models and phylogenetic path analysis to detect statistical associations between hybridization and plant traits at both the family and genus levels. We find that perenniality and woodiness are each weakly associated with an increased frequency of hybridization in univariate analyses, but path analysis suggests that the direct linkage is between perenniality and increased hybridization (with woodiness having only an indirect relationship with hybridization via perenniality). Weak associations between higher rates of hybridization and higher outcrossing rates, abiotic pollination syndromes, vegetative reproductive modes, larger genomes, and less variable genome sizes are detectable in some cases but not others. We argue that correlational evidence at the global scale, such as that presented here, provides a robust framework for forming hypotheses to examine and test drivers of hybridization at a more mechanistic level.

Funding

Division of Environmental Biology, Award: 1257965