Minor quantitative trait loci underlie floral traits associated with mating system divergence in Mimulus

Lila Fishman, Alan J. Kelly, John H. Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Scopus citations


The genetic basis of species differences provides insight into the mode and tempo of phenotypic divergence. We investigate the genetic basis of floral differences between two closely related plant taxa with highly divergent mating systems, Mimulus guttatus (large-flowered outcrosser) and M. nasutus (small-flowered selfer). We had previously constructed a framework genetic linkage map of the hybrid genome containing 174 markers spanning approximately 1800 cM on 14 linkage groups. In this study, we analyze the genetics of 16 floral, reproductive, and vegetative characters measured in a large segregating M. nasutus x M. guttatus F2 population (N = 526) and in replicates of the parental lines and F1 hybrids. Phenotypic analyses reveal strong genetic correlations among floral traits and epistatic breakdown of male and female fertility traits in the F2 hybrids. We use multitrait composite interval mapping to jointly locate and characterize quantitative trait loci (QTLs) underlying interspecific differences in seven floral traits. We identified 24 floral QTLs, most of which affected multiple traits. The large number of QTLs affecting each trait (mean = 13, range = 11-15) indicates a strikingly polygenic basis for floral divergence in this system. In general, QTL effects are small relative to both interspecific differences and environmental variation within genotypes, ruling out QTLs of major effect as contributors to floral divergence between M. guttatus and M. nasutus. QTLs show no pattern of directional dominance. Floral characters associated with pollinator attraction (corolla width) and self-pollen deposition (stigma-anther distance) share several pleiotropic or linked QTLs, but unshared QTLs may have allowed selfing to evolve independently from flower size. We discuss the polygenic nature of divergence between M. nasutus and M. guttatus in light of theoretical work on the evolution of selfing, genetics of adaptation, and maintenance of variation within populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2138-2155
Number of pages18
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002


  • Adaptation
  • Floral evolution
  • Genetic architecture
  • Mimulus
  • Quantitative trait locus
  • Selfing
  • Speciation


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