Hybrid crops, an important part of modern agriculture, rely on the development of male and female heterotic gene pools. In sunflowers, heterotic gene pools were developed through the use of crop-wild relatives to produce cytoplasmic male sterile female and branching, fertility restoring male lines. Here, we use genomic data from a diversity panel of male, female, and open-pollinated lines to explore the genetic changes brought during modern improvement. We find the male lines have diverged most from their open-pollinated progenitors and that genetic differentiation is concentrated in chromosomes, 8, 10 and 13, due to introgressions from wild relatives. Ancestral variation from open-pollinated varieties almost universally evolved in parallel for both male and female lines suggesting little or no selection for heterotic overdominance. Furthermore, we show that gene content differs between the male and female lines and that differentiation in gene content is concentrated in high FST regions. This means that the introgressions that brought branching and fertility restoration to the male lines, brought with them different gene content from the ancestral haplotypes, including the removal of some genes. Although we find no evidence that gene complementation genomewide is responsible for heterosis between male and female lines, several of the genes that are largely absent in either the male or female lines are associated with pathogen defense, suggesting complementation may be functionally relevant for crop breeders.
Journal: Evolutionary applications