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Natural Hybridization between Genera That Diverged from Each Other Approximately 60 Million Years Ago

Carl J. Rothfels, Anne K. Johnson, Peter H. Hovenkamp, David L. Swofford, Harry C. Roskam, Christopher R. Fraser-Jenkins, Michael D. Windham and Kathleen M. Pryer
The American Naturalist
Vol. 185, No. 3 (March 2015), pp. 433-442
DOI: 10.1086/679662
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/679662
Page Count: 10
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Natural Hybridization between Genera That Diverged from Each Other Approximately 60 Million Years Ago
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Abstract

AbstractA fern from the French Pyrenees—×Cystocarpium roskamianum—is a recently formed intergeneric hybrid between parental lineages that diverged from each other approximately 60 million years ago (mya; 95% highest posterior density: 40.2–76.2 mya). This is an extraordinarily deep hybridization event, roughly akin to an elephant hybridizing with a manatee or a human with a lemur. In the context of other reported deep hybrids, this finding suggests that populations of ferns, and other plants with abiotically mediated fertilization, may evolve reproductive incompatibilities more slowly, perhaps because they lack many of the premating isolation mechanisms that characterize most other groups of organisms. This conclusion implies that major features of Earth’s biodiversity—such as the relatively small number of species of ferns compared to those of angiosperms—may be, in part, an indirect by-product of this slower “speciation clock” rather than a direct consequence of adaptive innovations by the more diverse lineages.

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