Allele Surfing and Holocene Expansion of an Australian Fig (Ficus—Moraceae)

Thanks so much to Maurzio, Suzan and Sam for co authoring this study.

The creek sandpaper fig of southeastern Australia, Ficus coronata Spin, is culturally significant to Australian traditional owners who made use of the leaves to smooth timber and ate the fruit. The species is thought to have a long history on the continent, with some suggesting a Gondwanan origin. However, distributional patterns and overall ecology suggest a recent expansion across suitable habitats. We used landscape genomic techniques and environmental niche modelling to reconstruct its history and explore whether the species underwent a recent and rapid expansion along the east coast of New South Wales. Genomic analysis of 178 specimens collected from 32 populations throughout the species’ New South Wales distribution revealed a lack of genetic diversity and population structure. Some populations at the species’ southern and western range limits displayed unexpected diversity, which appears to be the result of allele surfing. Field work and genetic evidence suggest a Holocene expansion which may have increased since European colonisation. We also present a novel method for detecting allele surfing—MAHF (minor allele at highest frequency).

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