Helianthus is an economically important and genetically diverse genus, containing both evolutionary model species and cultivated species. Genetic variation within this genus has been examined at many different scales, from genome size changes to chromosomal structure to nucleotide variation. The growing amount of genomic resources within the genus has yielded insights into the importance of paleopolyploid events, and how transposable elements can cause rapid genome size increases. The rapidly evolving chromosomes in Helianthus have provided a system whereby it has been possible to study how chromosomal rearrangements impact speciation, adaptation and introgression. Population and quantitative genetic studies have used the abundant nucleotide variation to identify a number of candidate genes which may be involved in both local adaptation and domestication. The results from these investigations have provided basic knowledge about evolution and how to utilize genetic resources for both agriculture and conservation. Targeting Helianthus for further study as new technologies emerge will allow for a better understanding of how different types of genomic variation interact and contribute to phenotypic variation in a complex system that is ecologically and economically significant.
- Nucleotide variation
- Transposable elements