Molecular Systematics of Plants

pp 151-176

Molecular Evidence and Plant Introgression

  • Loren H. Rieseberg
  • , Steven J. Brunsfeld

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The role of introgression (interspecific gene exchange) in plant evolution has been the source of much discussion and debate (Anderson, 1949; Heiser, 1949, Heiser, 1965, Heiser, 1973; Stebbins, 1950, Stebbins, 1959, Stebbins, 1969; Grant, 1971; Rieseberg et al., 1988). Numerous authors have hypothesized that introgression could provide a significant avenue for the interspecific transfer of genetic adaptations (Anderson, 1949; Heiser, 1949, Heiser, 1965; Baker, 1965, Baker, 1974; Stebbins, 1965; Levin, 1975). As such, introgression could contribute to an increase (or decrease) in the relative fitness of an introgressed taxon (Arnold et al., 1990; Lewontin and Birch, 1966; Levin and Bulinska-Radomska, 1988), allow the colonization of new habitats (Harlan and de Wet, 1963; Heiser, 1965), and/or result in the origin and establishment of new types (Heiser, 1949, Heiser, 1973; Stebbins, 1950). Introgression could also result in the breakdown of isolating barriers between two partially isolated taxa and their subsequent merger (Grant, 1971).