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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Demographic histories of adaptively diverged riparian and non-riparian species of Ainsliaea (Asteraceae) inferred from coalescent analyses using multiple nuclear loci

Yuki Mitsui1* and Hiroaki Setoguchi2

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Agriculture, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Funako 1737, Atsugi, Kanagawa, 243-0034, Japan

2 Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida Nihonmatsu-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8501, Japan

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2012, 12:254  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-12-254

Published: 28 December 2012



Understanding demographic histories, such as divergence time, patterns of gene flow, and population size changes, in ecologically diverging lineages provide implications for the process and maintenance of population differentiation by ecological adaptation. This study addressed the demographic histories in two independently derived lineages of flood-resistant riparian plants and their non-riparian relatives [Ainsliaea linearis (riparian) and A. apiculata (non-riparian); A. oblonga (riparian) and A. macroclinidioides (non-riparian); Asteraceae] using an isolation-with-migration (IM) model based on variation at 10 nuclear DNA loci.


The highest posterior probabilities of the divergence time parameters were estimated to be ca. 25,000 years ago for A. linearis and A. apiculata and ca. 9000 years ago for A. oblonga and A. macroclinidioides, although the confidence intervals of the parameters had broad ranges. The likelihood ratio tests detected evidence of historical gene flow between both riparian/non-riparian species pairs. The riparian populations showed lower levels of genetic diversity and a significant reduction in effective population sizes compared to the non-riparian populations and their ancestral populations.


This study showed the recent origins of flood-resistant riparian plants, which are remarkable examples of plant ecological adaptation. The recent divergence and genetic signatures of historical gene flow among riparian/non-riparian species implied that they underwent morphological and ecological differentiation within short evolutionary timescales and have maintained their species boundaries in the face of gene flow. Comparative analyses of adaptive divergence in two sets of riparian/non-riparian lineages suggested that strong natural selection by flooding had frequently reduced the genetic diversity and size of riparian populations through genetic drift, possibly leading to fixation of adaptive traits in riparian populations. The two sets of riparian/non-riparian lineages showed contrasting patterns of gene flow and genetic differentiation, implying that each lineage showed different degrees of reproductive isolation and that they had experienced unique evolutionary and demographic histories in the process of adaptive divergence.

Adaptive divergence; Divergence time; Effective population size; Gene flow; Isolation-with-migration model; Riparian plants