Incomplete reproductive isolation and low genetic differentiation despite floral divergence across varying geographic scales in Castilleja

Katherine E. Wenzell*, Angela J. McDonnell, Norman J. Wickett, Jeremie B. Fant, Krissa A. Skogen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Premise: Divergence depends on the strength of selection and frequency of gene flow between taxa, while reproductive isolation relies on mating barriers and geographic distance. Less is known about how these processes interact at early stages of speciation. Here, we compared population-level differentiation in floral phenotype and genetic sequence variation among recently diverged Castilleja to explore patterns of diversification under different scenarios of reproductive isolation. Methods: Using target enrichment enabled by the Angiosperms353 probe set, we assessed genetic distance among 50 populations of four Castilleja species. We investigated whether patterns of genetic divergence are explained by floral trait variation or geographic distance in two focal groups: the widespread C. sessiliflora and the more restricted C. purpurea species complex. Results: We document that C. sessiliflora and the C. purpurea complex are characterized by high diversity in floral color across varying geographic scales. Despite phenotypic divergence, groups were not well supported in phylogenetic analyses, and little genetic differentiation was found across targeted Angiosperms353 loci. Nonetheless, a principal coordinate analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms revealed differentiation within C. sessiliflora across floral morphs and geography and less differentiation among species of the C. purpurea complex. Conclusions: Patterns of genetic distance in C. sessiliflora suggest species cohesion maintained over long distances despite variation in floral traits. In the C. purpurea complex, divergence in floral color across narrow geographic clines may be driven by recent selection on floral color. These contrasting patterns of floral and genetic differentiation reveal that divergence can arise via multiple eco-evolutionary paths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1270-1288
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Orobanchaceae
  • flower color
  • gene flow
  • selection
  • speciation
  • species cohesion
  • target enrichment sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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