Biodiversity Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (6): 638-646.doi: 10.17520/biods.2017060

• Original Papers • Previous Article     Next Article

Molecular evidence for natural hybridization between two Melastoma species endemic to Hainan and their widespread congeners

Qiujie Zhou1, Yacheng Cai1, Wei Lun Ng1, Wei Wu1, Seping Dai2, Feng Wang3, Renchao Zhou1, *()   

  1. 1 School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275
    2 Guangzhou Institute of Forestry and Landscape Architecture, Guangzhou 510520
    3 College of Pharmacy, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632
  • Received:2017-02-27 Accepted:2017-04-12 Online:2017-07-10
  • Zhou Renchao

Natural hybridization plays an important role in speciation, genetic exchange, and adaptive evolution. However, it can also lead to the extinction of rare species or can generate super invasive species. Studies of natural hybridization involving rare species can therefore provide valuable information for species protection. In Melastoma, M. penicillatum and M. dendrisetosum are endemic to Hainan, China. M. dendrisetosum is at the edge of extinction, with a wild population of less than 300 individuals. Based on morphological observations during our field survey, we found that there are putative hybrids formed between the two endemic species and their widespread congeners, i.e. M. candidum × M. penicillatum and M. sanguineum × M. dendrisetosum. In this study, we sequenced four low-copy nuclear genes and five chloroplast DNA intergenic spacers of the putative hybrids and their putative parents. We found that these putative hybrids showed chromatogram signal additivity between putative parental species on differentially fixed sites at these nuclear genes. Haplotype networks also showed that at all four nuclear loci analyzed, alleles of the putative hybrids were shared with those of their putative parental species. The results above confirmed that hybridization occurred between M. candidum and M. penicillatum, and between M. sanguineum and M. dendrisetosum. Also, we found an extremely low level of genetic diversity in M. dendrisetosum relative to the three other species of Melastoma. It appears that there are strong ecological isolation between M. candidum and M. penicillatum as well as between M. sanguineum and M. dendrisetosum, and habitat disturbance caused by highway construction may have promoted hybridization between these species. Therefore, the key to protecting these two species endemic to Hainan is to reduce habitat disturbance. Artificial propagation of the species is another possible way to expand their population sizes.

Key words: Melastoma, natural hybridization, endangered species, nuclear genes, chloroplast intergenic spacer, conservation

Fig. 1

Morphological comparison between Melastoma penicillatum, M. candidum and their putative hybrid. (A) M. penicillatum, (B) putative hybrid, (C) M. candidum. Fruits of M. penicillatum (D), putative hybrid (E) and M. candidum (F)."

Fig. 2

Morphological comparison between Melastoma dendrisetosum, M. sanguineum and their putative hybrid. Fruits of M. dendrisetosum (A), putative hybrid (B) and M. sanguineum (C). D, Leaves of M. dendrisetosum (left), putative hybrid (middle) and M. sanguineum (right). E, Young twigs of M. dendrisetosum (left), putative hybrid (middle) and M. sanguineum (right)."

Table 1

Sampling details of four species of Melastoma and two putative hybrids used in this study"

类群 Taxon 采样地点 Location 个体数量 Sample size
野牡丹 M. candidum (Cf) 福建龙海 Longhai, Fujian 19
野牡丹 M. candidum (Ch) 海南吊罗山 Diaoluoshan, Hainan 20
毛菍 M. sanguineum (S) 海南吊罗山 Diaoluoshan, Hainan 20
紫毛野牡丹 M. penicillatum (P) 海南吊罗山 Diaoluoshan, Hainan 20
枝毛野牡丹 M. dendrisetosum (D) 海南吊罗山 Diaoluoshan, Hainan 20
紫毛野牡丹与野牡丹的嫌疑杂种 Putative hybrid between P and C 海南吊罗山 Diaoluoshan, Hainan 1
枝毛野牡丹与毛菍的嫌疑杂种 Putative hybrid between D and S 海南吊罗山 Diaoluoshan, Hainan 4

Table 2

The base composition of the differentially fixed sites at the cam and tpi genes between Melastoma penicillatum and M. candidum in their putative hybrid (R = A + G; Y = C + T; W = T + A)"

类群 Taxon cam tpi
292 244 204 225 258 272 315 340 568
野牡丹 Melastoma candidum (C) A G T T T G A T C
紫毛野牡丹 M. penicillatum (P) G A A C C A G C T
紫毛野牡丹和野牡丹的嫌疑杂种 Putative hybrid between P and C R R W Y Y R R Y Y

Table 3

The base composition of the differentially fixed sites at the four nuclear genes between Melastoma dendrisetosum and M. sanguineum in their putative hybrid (R = A + G; Y = C + T; W = T + A; M = A + C; S = C + G)"

类群 Taxon cam chi gbss tpi
190 329 661 79 258 315 414 80 240 286
毛菍 M. sanguineum (S) T C G C A G G G T A
枝毛野牡丹 M. dendrisetosum (D) C T A T C A C A C T
枝毛野牡丹和毛菍的嫌疑杂种 Putative hybrid between D and S Y Y R Y M R S R Y W

Fig. 3

Median-joining networks of tpi (A), gbss (B), chi (C) and cam (D) genes of the four Melastoma species and the two putative hybrids. The numbers around the connecting lines between haplotypes represent the number of mutational steps between them, while those without numbers represent only one mutational step. Small black circles represent hypothetical or unsampled haplotypes."

Table 4

Genotypes of two putative hybrids of Melastoma at four nuclear genes (tpi, cam, chi and gbss). Haplotypes with single, double, wavy, or dotted underlines have identical sequences with those of M. candidum, M. penicillatum, M. sanguineum, and M. dendrisetosum, respectively. Haplotypes without underline are unique to the putative hybrids."

类群 Taxon 个体编号 Sample ID tpi cam chi gbss
紫毛野牡丹和野牡丹的嫌疑杂种 Putative hybrid (PC) PC PC1PC2 PC1PC2 PC1PC2 PC1 PC2
Putative hybrid (DS)
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