Demography and Polyploidy in Capsella

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Studies of demography and population structure give insight into important evolutionary processes such as speciation and diversification. In the present work I perform such studies in the genus Capsella, which has three species: C. grandiflora, an outcrossing diploid, C. rubella a selfing diploid, and C. bursa-pastoris a selfing tetraploid. These three species make a good model system for evolutionary studies because they encompass two major plant evolutionary processes: mating system shifts and polyploidization. To conduct my studies I have gathered a large number of samples across the distributions of each species and scored them both phenotypically and genotypically: more specifically we measured flowering time and collected DNA sequence data.In the tetraploid C. bursa-pastoris we applied an association mapping approach which takes population structure into account to search for genetic variation associated with variation in flowering time. Flowering time is an important and highly adaptive trait which is frequently subject to natural selection. We found evidence of association between flowering time and several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the flowering locus C (FLC) and cryptochrome 1 (CRY1). In the case of FLC these SNPs code for nonconsensus splice site variation in one of the two copies of the gene. The SNPs could potentially have functional consequences and our results imply that non-functionalization of duplicate genes could be an important source of phenotypic variation.Using a novel coalescent based approach, we investigated the polyploid origin of C. bursa-pastoris and find evidence supporting a recent autopolyploid origin of this species. In the two diploid species, I use sequence data to investigate population structure and demographic history and to assess the effects of selfing on C. rubella. Observed patterns of population structure and genetic diversity in C. rubella can be explained by a combination of both demographic history and mating system. Observed patterns in C. grandiflora suggest that the investigated populations do not deviate strongly from the SNM, which has rarely been found in modern demographic studies.Finally, we investigate the effect of sampling strategy on demographic inference. Extensive sampling both within and across our populations allow us to empirically test the effect of sampling strategy on demographic inference. We complement the empirical analysis with simulations and conclude that the effect of sampling strategy is in many cases weak compared with that of demographic events. Nevertheless, these effects are real and have the potential to lead to false inference and therefore sampling strategy should be carefully considered in demographic studies.