- The process of domestication often involves a complex genetic structure with contributions from multiple founder populations, interspecific hybridization, chromosomal introgressions, and polyploidization events that occurred hundreds to thousands of years earlier. These complex origins complicate the systematic study of the sources of phenotypic variation. The Florist’s Gloxinia, Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern, was introduced into cultivation in England two hundred years ago from botanical expeditions that began in the 18th century. Since that time, amateur plant breeders and small horticultural companies have developed hundreds of cultivars with a wide range of flower colors and shapes.
- In our genetic study of S. speciosa , we examined an extensive diversity panel consisting of 115 individuals that included different species, wild representatives, and cultivated accessions.
- Our analysis revealed that all of the domesticated varieties are derived from a single founder population that originated in or near the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. We did not detect any major hybridization or polyploidization events that could have contributed to the rapid increase in phenotypic diversity.
- Our findings, in conjunction with other features such as a small, low‐complexity genome, ease of cultivation, and rapid generation time, makes this species an attractive model for the study of genomic variation under domestication.