[Hermann2013] "Tight Genetic Linkage of Prezygotic Barrier Loci Creates a Multifunctional Speciation Island in Petunia",
: Elsevier, 2013.
Most flowering plants depend on animal vectors for pollination and seed dispersal. Differential pollinator preferences lead to premating isolation and thus reduced gene flow between interbreeding plant populations [1, 2, 3 and 4]. Sets of floral traits, adapted to attract specific pollinator guilds, are called pollination syndromes . Shifts in pollination syndromes have occurred surprisingly frequently , considering that they must involve coordinated changes in multiple genes affecting multiple floral traits. Although the identification of individual genes specifying single pollination syndrome traits is in progress in many species, little is known about the genetic architecture of coadapted pollination syndrome traits and how they are embedded within the genome . Here we describe the tight genetic linkage of loci specifying five major pollination syndrome traits in the genus Petunia: visible color, UV absorption, floral scent production, pistil length, and stamen length. Comparison with other Solanaceae indicates that, in P. exserta and P. axillaris, loci specifying these floral traits have specifically become clustered into a multifunctional “speciation island” [ 8 and 9]. Such an arrangement promotes linkage disequilibrium and avoids the dissolution of pollination syndromes by recombination. We suggest that tight genetic linkage provides a mechanism for rapid switches between distinct pollination syndromes in response to changes in pollinator availabilities.