Testing for evolutionary change in restoration: A genomic comparison between ex situ, native, and commercial seed sources of Helianthus maximiliani

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Jill Hamilton

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North America’s grasslands are one of the most globally imperiled ecosystems and thus need restoration strategies that maintain evolutionary potential for persistence under rapidly changing conditions. However, the maintenance of evolutionary potential requires genetic variation for adaptive evolution. Thus, increasing our understanding for how preservation and propagation may modify genetic variation of material used in restoration will illustrate the important role evolutionary change may have influencing short- and long-term restoration success. A combination of evolutionary factors, including selection, demographic variation, and founder effects will influence the amount and type of genetic variation available in restoration material. Intentional or unintentional selection of restoration material may contribute to the evolution of seed sources, impacting performance and evolutionary potential following restoration. We examined genomic variation in Helianthus maximiliani, a perennial sunflower distributed across the Great Plains of North America that is commonly used in grassland restorations. We use next-gen sequencing (GBS) approaches to evaluate genomic variation within and among a combination of seed sources; including historical ex situ collections, native populations, and commercial seed sources. Our data suggest that genetic differences have evolved across seed source types. In particular, commercial seed sources exhibit significant genetic differentiation from both ex situ and native seed sources. Future work aims to tease apart the impact different evolutionary processes have had on the genomic structure of the different seed source populations. This work will include an evaluation of whether phenotypic variation in traits important to adaptation have evolved over time and in response to propagation.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration