The contribution of neutral and environmentally dependent processes in driving population and lineage divergence in Taiwania (Taiwania cryptomerioides)

Yi Shao Li, Chung Te Chang, Chun Neng Wang, Philip Thomas, Jeng Der Chung, Shih Ying Hwang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The question of what determines divergence both between and within species has been the central topic in evolutionary biology. Neutral drift and environmentally dependent divergence are predicted to play roles in driving population and lineage divergence. However, neutral drift may preclude adaptation if the rate of gene flow between populations is high. Here, we sampled populations of three Taiwania (Taiwania cryptomerioides) lineages occurring in Taiwan, the mainland of China (Yunnan-Myanmar border), and northern Vietnam, and tested the relative strength of neutral drift and divergent selection in shaping divergence of those populations and lineages. We quantified genetic and epigenetic variation, respectively, using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism (MSAP). Analysis of 1413 AFLP and 462 MSAP loci using frequency-based genome scan methods and generalized linear models (GLMs) found no potential selective outliers when only Taiwanese populations were examined, suggesting that neutral drift was the predominant evolutionary process driving differentiation between those populations. However, environmentally associated divergence was found when lineages were compared. Thirty-two potential selective outliers were identified based on genome scans and their associations with environmental variables were tested with GLMs, generalized linear mixed effect models (GLMMs), and model selection with a model averaging approach. Ten loci (six AFLP and four MSAP) were found to be strongly associated with environmental variables, particularly monthly temperature variation and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) using model selection and a model averaging approach. Because only a small portion of genetic and epigenetic loci were found to be potential selective outliers, neutral evolutionary process might also have played crucial roles in driving lineage divergence, particularly between geographically and genetically isolated island and mainland Asia lineages. Nevertheless, the vast amount of neutral drift causing genetic and epigenetic variations might have the potential for adaptation to future climate changes. These could be important for the survival of Taiwania in different geographic areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1148
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 8


  • Adaptive divergence
  • Epigenetic variation
  • Genetic variation
  • Nonadaptive divergence
  • Taiwania cryptomerioides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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