Background and aims Angiosperms display remarkable diversity in flower colour, implying that transitions between pigmentation phenotypes must have been common. Despite progress in understanding transitions between anthocyanin (blue, purple, pink or red) and unpigmented (white) flowers, little is known about the evolutionary patterns of flower-colour transitions in lineages with both yellow and anthocyanin-pigmented flowers. This study investigates the relative rates of evolutionary transitions between different combinations of yellow- and anthocyanin-pigmentation phenotypes in the tribe Antirrhineae. Methods We surveyed taxonomic literature for data on anthocyanin and yellow floral pigmentation for 369 species across the tribe. We then reconstructed the phylogeny of 169 taxa and used phylogenetic comparative methods to estimate transition rates among pigmentation phenotypes across the phylogeny. Key Results In contrast to previous studies we found a bias towards transitions involving a gain in pigmentation, although transitions to phenotypes with both anthocyanin and yellow taxa are nevertheless extremely rare. Despite the dominance of yellow and anthocyanin-pigmented taxa, transitions between these phenotypes are constrained to move through a white intermediate stage, whereas transitions to double-pigmentation are very rare. The most abundant transitions are between anthocyanin-pigmented and unpigmented flowers, and similarly the most abundant polymorphic taxa were those with anthocyanin-pigmented and unpigmented flowers. Conclusions Our findings show that pigment evolution is limited by the presence of other floral pigments. This interaction between anthocyanin and yellow pigments constrains the breadth of potential floral diversity observed in nature. In particular, they suggest that selection has repeatedly acted to promote the spread of single-pigmented phenotypes across the Antirrhineae phylogeny. Furthermore, the correlation between transition rates and polymorphism suggests that the forces causing and maintaining variance in the short term reflect evolutionary processes on longer time scales.
Annals of Botany
We thank Melinda Pickup, Spencer Barrett, Nick Barton and four anonymous reviewers for helpful discussions on previous versions of this manuscript. We also thank Jana Porsche for her efforts in tracking down the more obscure references.
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Ellis T, Field D. Repeated gains in yellow and anthocyanin pigmentation in flower colour transitions in the Antirrhineae. Annals of Botany. 2016;117(7):1133-1140. doi:10.1093/aob/mcw043
Ellis, T., & Field, D. (2016). Repeated gains in yellow and anthocyanin pigmentation in flower colour transitions in the Antirrhineae. Annals of Botany. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw043
Ellis, Thomas, and David Field. “Repeated Gains in Yellow and Anthocyanin Pigmentation in Flower Colour Transitions in the Antirrhineae.” Annals of Botany. Oxford University Press, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw043.
T. Ellis and D. Field, “Repeated gains in yellow and anthocyanin pigmentation in flower colour transitions in the Antirrhineae,” Annals of Botany, vol. 117, no. 7. Oxford University Press, pp. 1133–1140, 2016.
Ellis T, Field D. 2016. Repeated gains in yellow and anthocyanin pigmentation in flower colour transitions in the Antirrhineae. Annals of Botany. 117(7), 1133–1140.
Ellis, Thomas, and David Field. “Repeated Gains in Yellow and Anthocyanin Pigmentation in Flower Colour Transitions in the Antirrhineae.” Annals of Botany, vol. 117, no. 7, Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 1133–40, doi:10.1093/aob/mcw043.
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