The formation of hybrid zones between nascent species is a widespread phenomenon. The evolutionary consequences of hybridization are influenced by numerous factors, including the action of natural selection on quantitative trait variation. Here we examine how the genetic basis of floral traits of two species of Louisiana Irises affects the extent of quantitative trait variation in their hybrids. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping was used to assess the size (magnitude) of phenotypic effects of individual QTL, the degree to which QTL for different floral traits are colocalized, and the occurrence of mixed QTL effects. These aspects of quantitative genetic variation would be expected to influence (1) the number of genetic steps (in terms of QTL substitutions) separating the parental species phenotypes; (2) trait correlations; and (3) the potential for transgressive segregation in hybrid populations. Results indicate that some Louisiana Iris floral trait QTL have large effects and QTL for different traits tend to colocalize. Transgressive variation was observed for six of nine traits, despite the fact that mixed QTL effects influence few traits. Overall, our QTL results imply that the genetic basis of floral morphology and color traits might facilitate the maintenance of phenotypic divergence between Iris fulva and Iris brevicaulis, although a great deal of phenotypic variation was observed among hybrids.
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Vol. 61 • No. 10