J Plant Ecol ›› 2020, Vol. 13 ›› Issue (4): 413-422.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtaa028

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Environmental pressure rather than ongoing hybridization is responsible for an altitudinal cline in the morphologies of two oaks

Ichiro Tamaki*, and Yae Yamada   

  1. Gifu Academy of Forest Science and Culture, 88 Sodai, Mino, Gifu 501-3714, Japan

    *Corresponding author. E-mail: garageit@gmail.com
  • Received:2019-12-12 Revised:2020-05-08 Accepted:2020-05-21 Online:2020-05-26 Published:2020-08-01



In a contact zone between related taxa, phenotypic variation can result from genetic and/or environmental gradients. This study aimed to clarify the cause of phenotypic variation in leaf morphology of two Quercus crispula varieties—crispula (QCC) and mongolicoides (QCM)—in their contact zone along an altitudinal gradient.


We measured 6 morphological traits of leaves and recorded genotypes of 13 nuclear microsatellite loci for 48 individuals in the contact zone and 24 individuals in each of the reference populations of QCC and QCM. We constructed a model explaining the phenotypic variation (leaf morphology) in relation to environmental (altitude) and genetic (ancestry from the reference population) gradients.

Important Findings

Both morphological and genetic markers distinguished the two varieties in the reference populations well. We were able to confirm the power of both morphological and genetic markers. Individuals within the contact zone population had intermediate ancestry that was slightly biased to QCM ancestry, and the distribution of their morphologies overlapped with those of the two varieties in the reference populations. The effect of altitude on leaf morphological traits was significant, while that of ancestry was not. Distributions of ancestry and interclass heterozygosity in the contact zone population resembled those in F2 or later generation hybrids. These results indicate that in the contact zone between QCC and QCM, there is no ongoing hybridization, but environmental pressure has created an altitudinal gradient in morphological traits through phenotypic plasticity and/or variation in functional genes.

Key words: Quercus crispula, Quercus mongolica, leaf morphologies, microsatellites, hybrid zone


在相关类群之间的接触区,表型变异可能源于遗传和/或环境梯度。本研究旨在阐明两种栎属植物[Quercus crispula (QCC)和 Q. mongolicoides (QCM)],在其接触区沿海拔梯度形成叶片形态表型变异的原因。对于源自接触区48个个体和QCC和QCM的每个参照 种群24个个体样本,我们测定其6种叶片形态特征,同时记录13个核微卫星位点的基因型。我们通过构建模型解释表型变异(叶片形态)与环境(海拔)和遗传(参照种群世系)梯度的关系。研究结果表明,形态和遗传标记均能较好地区分参照种群中的两个品种。我们能够确认形态和遗传标记的作用。接触区种群内的个体具有略偏向QCM分支的中间世系,其形态分布与参照种群中两个变种的形态分布重叠。海拔会显著影响叶片形态性状,而遗传对叶片形态性状无显著影响。接触区种群的世系和种间杂合性分布与F2或后代杂交种中的分布相似。这些结果表明,在两种栎属植物QCC和QCM之间的接触区,并没有发生杂交,但环境压力通过表型可塑性和/或功能基因的变异,导致了其在形态性状上的海拔梯度效应。

关键词: 栎属植物, 蒙古栎, 叶片形态, 微卫星, 杂交带