Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Hybridisation and detection of a hybrid zone between mesic and desert ragworts (Senecio) across an aridity gradient in the eastern Mediterranean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Richard J. Abbott, Hans P Comes, Zoe A Goodwin, Adrian C Brennan

School/Research organisations


Background: Hybrid zones provide excellent opportunities for studying plant adaptation and speciation.

Aims: We tested whether two herbaceous species of Senecio, S. vernalis and S. glaucus, hybridise in the eastern Mediterranean region and form a hybrid zone across an aridity gradient in the Jordan Rift Valley.

Methods: Allozyme variation surveyed across both species was analysed by the programme STRUCTURE to assign individuals to genetic groups and determine levels of admixture. Populations in the Jordan Rift Valley were subsequently subjected to a cline analysis.

Results: STRUCTURE showed that interspecific hybrids were produced at low frequency along the Israeli coastal plain where S. glaucus is represented by ssp. glaucus. In contrast, hybrids were more commonly produced in central populations of the Jordan Rift Valley. Here, the two species form a hybrid zone with S. vernalis occurring in mesic sites to the north and S. glaucus (ssp. coronopifolius) in arid sites to the south. Cline analysis showed that the hybrid zone is centred towards the northern end of the Dead Sea, but the analysis failed to distinguish how it is maintained.

Conclusions: Future detailed genetic and ecological analysis of the Senecio hybrid zone should improve our understanding of plant adaptation and speciation across aridity gradients.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-281
JournalPlant Ecology & Diversity
Issue number3
Early online date19 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Aridity gradient, Cline analysis, Gene flow, Hybridisation, Hybrid zone, Reproductive isolation, Senecio, Speciation

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Genetic diversity hotspots and refugia identified by mapping multi-plant species haplotype diversity in China

    Deng, T., Abbott, R. J., Li, W., Sun, H. & Volis, S., 27 Aug 2019, In : Israel Journal of Plant Sciences. 66, 3-4, p. 136-151 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Ancient introgression drives adaptation to cooler and drier mountain habitats in a cypress species complex

    Ma, Y., Wang, J., Hu, Q., Li, J., Sun, Y., Zhang, L., Abbott, R. J., Liu, J. & Mao, K., 18 Jun 2019, In : Communications Biology. 2, 12 p., 213.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Late Pleistocene speciation of three closely related tree peonies endemic to the Qinling–Daba Mountains, a major glacial refugium in Central China

    Xu, X-X., Cheng, F-Y., Peng, L-P., Sun, Y-Q., Hu, X-G., Li, S-Y., Xian, H-L., Jia, K-H., Abbott, R. J. & Mao, J-F., 17 Jun 2019, In : Ecology and Evolution. Early View, 21 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Divergence and reproductive isolation between two closely related allopatric Iris species

    Volis, S., Zhang, Y-H., Deng, T., Dorman, M., Blecher, M. & Abbott, R. J., Jun 2019, In : Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 127, 2, p. 377-389 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. A mixing-isolation-mixing model of speciation can potentially explain hotspots of species diversity

    Abbott, R. J., Mar 2019, In : National Science Review. 6, 2, p. 290-291 2 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Related by journal

  1. Recurrent origin of peripheral, coastal (sub)species of Mediterranean Senecio (Asteraceae)

    Comes, H. P., Coleman, M. & Abbott, R. J., Dec 2017, In : Plant Ecology & Diversity. 10, 4, p. 253-271

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Self-pollination, style length development and seed set in self-compatible Asteraceae: evidence from Senecio vulgaris L.

    Love, J., Graham, S., Irwin, J., Ashton, P., Bretagnolle, F. & Abbott, R. J., 2016, In : Plant Ecology & Diversity. 9, 4, p. 371-379 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. The long and the short of it: long-styled florets are associated with higher outcrossing rate in Senecio vulgaris and result from delayed self-pollen germination

    Irwin, J. A., Ashton, P. A., Bretagnolle, F. & Abbott, R. J., 2016, In : Plant Ecology & Diversity. 9, 2, p. 159-165 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 256602150