Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 2195–2205 | Cite as

Hybridization between the threatened plant, Lespedeza leptostachya Englem. and its co-occurring congener Lespedeza capitata Michx.: morphological and molecular evidence

  • J. B. Fant
  • A. Banai
  • K. Havens
  • P. Vitt
Research Article


Natural hybridization is common in the genus Lespedeza. No hybrids between Lespedeza leptostachya Englem. and Lespedeza capitata Michx. are formally recognized in any of the current floras, however observations in the field suggest that hybridization might occur in many of their shared habitats. Putative hybrids were compared to L. leptostachya and L. capitata using morphological measurements and screened for the presence of species-specific trnL-F gene region (cpDNA) and the ITS gene region (nrDNA). A discriminate analysis of 10 morphological measurements identified the hybrids as intermediate to both parents with two PCA axes explaining 99% of the variation between taxa. The presence of hybrids was confirmed by genetic markers with individuals morphologically identified as hybrids having cpDNA trnL-F genotypes identical to L. leptostachya and the ITS (nrDNA) phenotypes in most cases contain the ITS genotype of both parents, however, some putative hybrid individuals contained the ITS genotype of only one parents. Those individuals with L. leptostachya ITS and trnL-F could be a case of misclassification, but the presence of both L. capitata ITS genotypes and L. leptostachya trnL-F genotypes suggest segregation has occurred, which may result from either selfing or backcrossing.


Lespedeza Hybrids Genetic introgression Threatened species Morphological introgression 



We wish to thank Andrea Kramer, Krissa Skogen, Ben Staehlin, Rebecca Tonietto and Nyree Zerega, on their comments on initial version of the manuscripts and two anonymous reviewers. Thanks also to Northwestern University, the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Native Plant Society, and the North Shore Garden Club for funding to support this research. We thank Todd Bittner, Phil Delphy, Kristin Kordecki, Nancy Sather, Tom Sather, Eileen Sirkin, Mark Vaniman, Bill Watson, and Nyree Zerega, for field and lab assistance. Thanks also go to Dr. Paul P. Tinerella, Insect Collection Manager and Associate Research Scientist for the Illinois Natural History Survey for identifying the insects visiting our Lespedeza taxa.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plant Science and ConservationChicago Botanic GardenGlencoeUSA
  2. 2.Plant Biology and Conservation, Weinberg College of Arts and SciencesNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Urban Environmental Research and PolicyLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA

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