Evolutionary relationships and reproductive ecology of endemic Sorbus species in south west UK: Implications for conservation.
Hamston, Tracey Jane
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Chapters are intended to be published as journal papers
The genus Sorbus is an example of a taxonomically complex group (TCG) with diversity derived from hybridisation, polyploidy and apomixis. The focus of this study was to elucidate the evolutionary relationships among nine Sorbus species including endemics of the Devon and north Somerset region of the south west UK, determine main routes of polyploid formation and investigate reproductive sustainability in order to make recommendations for Sorbus conservation. Molecular analysis showed that genetic structure patterns and genotypic diversity support the hypothesis that the study polyploids are a product of rare interspecific hybridisation, of single origins and are maintained through apomictic reproduction. PCoA, Neighbour Joining analysis and parental simulations reveal a reticulated relationship, with diversification the result of hybridisations between sexual diploid Sorbus torminalis and both tetraploid and triploid species. Hybridisation between S. torminalis and tetraploid Sorbus margaretae (subgenus Aria) have likely given rise to the study members of subgenus Tormaria through production of a triploid which has subsequently backcrossed to Sorbus torminalis to form further tetraploids. The discovery of a cryptic hybrid in subgenus Aria also suggests occasional hybridisation events among tetraploids are a possible route for further tetraploid formation These events illustrate key routes of polyploid formation, both illustrating the role of triploids in tetraploid formation via the triploid bridge and the key role in sexual diploids in diversification in Sorbus. Hand pollination experiments showed that self-incompatibility in the triploid species (Sorbus subcuneata) means reliance on congeneric pollen from sympatric tetraploid species for seed production. Reproductive sustainability in this species is severely compromised through spatial isolation from compatible congeners. Our findings are strong support for the development of conservation strategies that aim to safeguard current diversity through actions that increase reproductive sustainability and recruitment opportunities, and promote opportunities for on-going hybridisation for future diversification of Sorbus in this region.
Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust
Cresswell, James E
PhD in Biological Sciences