Abstract The predictability of evolution, or whether lineages repeatedly follow the same evolutionary trajectories during phenotypic convergence remains an open question of evolutionary biology. In this study, we investigate evolutionary convergence at the biochemical pathway level and test the predictability of evolution using floral anthocyanin pigmentation, a trait with a well-understood genetic and regulatory basis. We reconstructed the evolution of floral anthocyanin content across 28 species of the Andean clade Iochrominae (Solanaceae) and investigated how shifts in pigmentation are related to changes in expression of 7 key anthocyanin pathway genes. We used phylogenetic multivariate analysis of gene expression to test for phenotypic and developmental convergence at a macroevolutionary scale. Our results show that the four independent losses of the ancestral pigment delphinidin involved convergent losses of expression of the three late pathway genes (F3’5’h, Dfr and Ans). Transitions between pigment types affecting floral hue (e.g. blue to red) involve changes to the expression of branching genes F3’h and F3’5’h, while the expression levels of early steps of the pathway are strongly conserved in all species. These patterns support the idea that the macroevolution of floral pigmentation follows predictable evolutionary trajectories to reach convergent phenotype space, repeatedly involving regulatory changes. This is likely driven by constraints at the pathway level, such as pleiotropy and regulatory structure. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Molecular Biology and Evolution – Oxford University Press
Published: Jun 7, 2018
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