The landrace strains of Momordica charantia
are widely cultivated vegetables throughout the tropics and subtropics, but not in Taiwan, a continental island in Southeast Asia, until a few hundred years ago. In contrast, the related wild populations with smaller fruit sizes are native to Taiwan. Because of the introduction of cultivars for agricultural purposes, these two accessions currently exhibit a sympatric or parapatric distribution in Taiwan. In this study, the cultivars
and wild samples from Taiwan, India, and Korea
were collected for testing of their hybridization and evolutionary patterns. The cpDNA marker showed a clear distinction between accessions of cultivars and wild populations of Taiwan and a long divergence time. In contrast, an analysis of eight selectively neutral nuclear microsatellite loci did not reveal a difference between the genetic structures of these two accessions. A relatively short divergence time and frequent but asymmetric gene flows were estimated based on the isolation-with-migration model. Historical and current introgression from cultivars to wild populations of Taiwan was also inferred using MIGRATE-n and BayesAss analyses. Our results showed that these two accessions shared abundant common ancestral polymorphisms, and the timing of the divergence and colonization of the Taiwanese wild populations is consistent with the geohistory of the Taiwan Strait land bridge of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Long-term and recurrent introgression between accessions indicated the asymmetric capacity to receive foreign genes from other accessions. The modern introduction of cultivars of M
during the colonization of Taiwan by the Han Chinese ethnic group enhanced the rate of gene replacement in the native populations and resulted in the loss of native genes.