Longitudinal trends in climate drive flowering time clines in North American Arabidopsis thaliana.
Introduced species frequently show geographic differentiation, and when differentiation mirrors the ancestral range, it is often taken as evidence of adaptive evolution. The mouse-ear cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) was introduced to North America from Eurasia 150-200 years ago, providing an opportunity to study parallel adaptation in a genetic model organism. Here, we test for clinal variation in flowering time using 199 North American (NA) accessions of A. thaliana, and evaluate the contributions of major flowering time genes FRI, FLC, and PHYC as well as potential ecological mechanisms underlying differentiation. We find evidence for substantial within population genetic variation in quantitative traits and flowering time, and putatively adaptive longitudinal differentiation, despite low levels of variation at FRI, FLC, and PHYC and genome-wide reductions in population structure relative to Eurasian (EA) samples. The observed longitudinal cline in flowering time in North America is parallel to an EA cline, robust to the effects of population structure, and associated with geographic variation in winter precipitation and temperature. We detected major effects of FRI on quantitative traits associated with reproductive fitness, although the haplotype associated with higher fitness remains rare in North America. Collectively, our results suggest the evolution of parallel flowering time clines through novel genetic mechanisms.