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Ecotype variation in the endemic tree Callicarpa subpubescens on small oceanic islands: genetic, phenotypic, and environmental insights

Abstract

Callicarpa subpubescens, endemic to the Ogasawara Islands, is suggested to have multiple ecotypes in the Hahajima Islands, specifically in the central part of the Ogasawara Islands. In this study, associations between genetic groups and spatial distribution, habitat, leaf morphology, size structure, and flowering time of each genetic group were investigated on Hahajima and the satellite Imoutojima Islands. Genetic groups were identified using EST-SSR markers, revealing four ecotypes named based on morphological features: Dwarf (D), Glabrescent (G), Tall (T), and Middle (M), with M being a result of the hybridization of G and T. Ecotype D, adapted to dry environments, is characterized by small tree size, dense thick leaves with abundant hairs, and is distributed in dry scrub. Ecotype G, adapted to understory of mesic forests, lacks leaf hairs. Ecotype T, adapted to the canopy of mesic forests, has hairy leaves and is tall in tree height. Ecotype M, adapted to the canopy of mesic scrub or edges of mesic forests, has hairy leaves but with a shorter tree height than ecotype T. Flowering peaks differed among all ecotype pairs except G and M, but the flowering times more or less overlapped among all ecotypes, suggesting that pre-mating isolation among ecotypes is not perfect. Post-mating isolation is considered absent, as there were no differences in the results, germination, and survival rates of one-year seedlings among inter- and intra-ecotype crossings. The existence of such ecotypes provides valuable insights into the ongoing speciation processes adapting to the oceanic island environments.

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Fig. 1: Spatial distribution of core and intermediate trees (left) and a topographic and a vegetation map of Hahajima and Imoutojima Islands (right).
Fig. 2: Results of STRUCTURE analysis.
Fig. 3: Principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) of all trees.
Fig. 4: Distributions of the first and second principal components (i.e., PC1 and PC2) for eleven leaf morphological traits.
Fig. 5: The difference of size distribution of core trees of each ecotype.
Fig. 6: Flowering phenology of core trees of each ecotype.

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Data availability

The data supporting the findings of this study are available from Dryad https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6q573n65w.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Y. Nakamura for providing the location of trees; Dr. C. Migita, A. Hisamatsu, M. Yokoya and Y. Yoshii for their experimental support; Drs. T. Nagamitsu and J.R.P. Worth for their valuable advice. We also thank Metropolis of Tokyo, the Ministry of the Environmental Government of Japan, and Forestry Agency of Japan for allowing this study. This research was conducted using the Ogasawara Field Research Station of Tokyo Metropolitan University. This work was funded by Grants-in-Aid for Science Research from the Japanese Society for Promotion of Science (JP26290073, JP15K07203, JP21K05694), the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (4-1402).

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SS, KS, KH, and HK designed the research. SS, KS, KH, and HK sampled materials. SS performed all the laboratory work. SS, KS, and IT performed data analysis. All co-authors discussed the results. SS and IT wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Suzuki Setsuko.

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The plant species sampled for this study were obtained within the Ogasawara National Park, and sampling was conducted with permission from the Ministry of the Environment, the Forestry Agency of Japan, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

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Setsuko, S., Sugai, K., Tamaki, I. et al. Ecotype variation in the endemic tree Callicarpa subpubescens on small oceanic islands: genetic, phenotypic, and environmental insights. Heredity 132, 309–319 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41437-024-00684-3

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