Adaptive divergence in the monkey flower Mimulus guttatus is maintained by a chromosomal inversion

Alex D. Twyford, Jannice Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organisms exhibit an incredible diversity of life history strategies as adaptive responses to environmental variation. The establishment of novel life history strategies involves multilocus polymorphisms, which will be challenging to establish in the face of gene flow and recombination. Theory predicts that adaptive allelic combinations may be maintained and spread if they occur in genomic regions of reduced recombination, such as chromosomal inversion polymorphisms, yet empirical support for this prediction is lacking. Here, we use genomic data to investigate the evolution of divergent adaptive ecotypes of the yellow monkey flower Mimulus guttatus. We show that a large chromosomal inversion polymorphism is the major region of divergence between geographically widespread annual and perennial ecotypes. In contrast, ∼40,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms in collinear regions of the genome show no signal of life history, revealing genomic patterns of diversity have been shaped by localized homogenizing gene flow and large-scale Pleistocene range expansion. Our results provide evidence for an inversion capturing and protecting loci involved in local adaptation, while also explaining how adaptive divergence can occur with gene flow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1476–1486
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Early online date15 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2015


  • Adaptation
  • chromosome inversion
  • Mimulus
  • phylogeography
  • population genomics


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