The potential for hybridization to accelerate adaptation and health of trees to future novel and rapidly changing environments
Tree species can often produce hybrids with other species. Plant breedings have been using these hybrids for centuries to produce new and improved varieties of food and ornamental plants. Evolutionary biologists, on the other hand, often view hybrids as a threat to the purity of a species. This study explores the theoretical implications of species evolving in a syngameon and the importance of the syngameon in the diversification of trees and in the maintenance of high genetic diversity. The theoretical work will lead to practical applications that will accelerate and enhance the ability of trees to adapt to rapidly changing environments.
The Morton Arboretum, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, The Natural Science Foundation of China