skip to main content

Title: Polygenic Selection within a Single Generation Leads to Subtle Divergence among Ecological Niches
Abstract Selection on standing genetic variation may be effective enough to allow for adaptation to distinct niche environments within a single generation. Minor allele frequency changes at multiple, redundant loci of small effect can produce remarkable phenotypic shifts. Yet, demonstrating rapid adaptation via polygenic selection in the wild remains challenging. Here we harness natural replicate populations that experience similar selection pressures and harbor high within-, yet negligible among-population genetic variation. Such populations can be found among the teleost Fundulus heteroclitus that inhabits marine estuaries characterized by high environmental heterogeneity. We identify 10,861 single nucleotide polymorphisms in F. heteroclitus that belong to a single, panmictic population yet reside in environmentally distinct niches (one coastal basin and three replicate tidal ponds). By sampling at two time points within a single generation, we quantify both allele frequency change within as well as spatial divergence among niche subpopulations. We observe few individually significant allele frequency changes yet find that the “number” of moderate changes exceeds the neutral expectation by 10–100%. We find allele frequency changes to be significantly concordant in both direction and magnitude among all niche subpopulations, suggestive of parallel selection. In addition, within-generation allele frequency changes generate subtle but significant divergence among niches, more » indicative of local adaptation. Although we cannot distinguish between selection and genotype-dependent migration as drivers of within-generation allele frequency changes, the trait/s determining fitness and/or migration likelihood appear to be polygenic. In heterogeneous environments, polygenic selection and polygenic, genotype-dependent migration offer conceivable mechanisms for within-generation, local adaptation to distinct niches. « less
; ; ;
Fraser, Bonnie
Award ID(s):
1754437 1556396
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Genome Biology and Evolution
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Evolution by natural selection may be effective enough to allow for recurrent, rapid adaptation to distinct niche environments within a well-mixed population. For this to occur, selection must act on standing genetic variation such that mortality i.e. genetic load, is minimized while polymorphism is maintained. Selection on multiple, redundant loci of small effect provides a potentially inexpensive solution. Yet, demonstrating adaptation via redundant, polygenic selection in the wild remains extremely challenging because low per-locus effect sizes and high genetic redundancy severely reduce statistical power. One approach to facilitate identification of loci underlying polygenic selection is to harness natural replicate populations experiencing similar selection pressures that harbor high within-, yet negligible among-population genetic variation. Such populations can be found among the teleost Fundulus heteroclitus. F. heteroclitus inhabits salt marsh estuaries that are characterized by high environmental heterogeneity e.g. tidal ponds, creeks, coastal basins. Here, we sample four of these heterogeneous niches (one coastal basin and three replicate tidal ponds) at two time points from among a single, panmictic F. heteroclitus population. We identify 10,861 single nucleotide polymorphisms using a genotyping-by-sequencing approach and quantify temporal allele frequency change within, as well as spatial divergence among subpopulations residing in these niches. We findmore »a significantly elevated number of concordant allele frequency changes among all subpopulations, suggesting ecosystem-wide adaptation to a common selection pressure. Remarkably, we also find an unexpected number of temporal allele frequency changes that generate fine-scale divergence among subpopulations, suggestive of local adaptation to distinct niche environments. Both patterns are characterized by a lack of large-effect loci yet an elevated total number of significant loci. Adaptation via redundant, polygenic selection offers a likely explanation for these patterns as well as a potential mechanism for polymorphism maintenance in the F. heteroclitus system.« less
  2. By investigating evolutionary adaptations that change physiological functions, we can enhance our understanding of how organisms work, the importance of physiological traits, and the genes that influence these traits. This approach of investigating the evolution of physiological adaptation has been used with the teleost fish Fundulus heteroclitus and has produced insights into (i) how protein polymorphisms enhance swimming and development; (ii) the role of equilibrium enzymes in modulating metabolic flux; (iii) how variation in DNA sequences and mRNA expression patterns mitigate changes in temperature, pollution, and salinity; and (iv) the importance of nuclear-mitochondrial genome interactions for energy metabolism. Fundulus heteroclitus provides so many examples of adaptive evolution because their local population sizes are large, they have significant standing genetic variation, and they experience large ranges of environmental conditions that enhance the likelihood that adaptive evolution will occur. Thus, F. heteroclitus research takes advantage of evolutionary changes associated with exposure to diverse environments, both across the North American Atlantic coast and within local habitats, to contrast neutral versus adaptive divergence. Based on evolutionary analyses contrasting neutral and adaptive evolution in F. heteroclitus populations, we conclude that adaptive evolution can occur readily and rapidly, at least in part because it depends onmore »large amounts of standing genetic variation among many genes that can alter physiological traits. These observations of polygenic adaptation enhance our understanding of how evolution and physiological adaptation progresses, thus informing both biological and medical scientists about genotype-phenotype relationships« less
  3. Chapman, Mark (Ed.)
    Abstract Populations along steep environmental gradients are subject to differentiating selection that can result in local adaptation, despite countervailing gene flow, and genetic drift. In montane systems, where species are often restricted to narrow ranges of elevation, it is unclear whether the selection is strong enough to influence functional differentiation of subpopulations differing by a few hundred meters in elevation. We used targeted capture of 12 501 exons from across the genome, including 271 genes previously implicated in altitude adaptation, to test for adaptation to local elevations for 2 highland hummingbird species, Coeligena violifer (n = 62) and Colibri coruscans (n = 101). For each species, we described population genetic structure across the complex geography of the Peruvian Andes and, while accounting for this structure, we tested whether elevational allele frequency clines in single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed evidence for local adaptation to elevation. Although the 2 species exhibited contrasting population genetic structures, we found signatures of clinal genetic variation with shifts in elevation in both. The genes with SNP-elevation associations included candidate genes previously discovered for high-elevation adaptation as well as others not previously identified, with cellular functions related to hypoxia response, energy metabolism, and immune function, among others.more »Despite the homogenizing effects of gene flow and genetic drift, natural selection on parts of the genome evidently optimizes elevation-specific cellular function even within elevation range-restricted montane populations. Consequently, our results suggest local adaptation occurring in narrow elevation bands in tropical mountains, such as the Andes, may effectively make them “taller” biogeographic barriers.« less
  4. Genes that affect adaptive traits have been identified, but our knowledge of the genetic basis of adaptation in a more general sense (across multiple traits) remains limited. We combined population-genomic analyses of evolve-and-resequence experiments, genome-wide association mapping of performance traits, and analyses of gene expression to fill this knowledge gap and shed light on the genomics of adaptation to a marginal host (lentil) by the seed beetle Callosobruchus maculatus. Using population-genomic approaches, we detected modest parallelism in allele frequency change across replicate lines during adaptation to lentil. Mapping populations derived from each lentil-adapted line revealed a polygenic basis for two host-specific performance traits (weight and development time), which had low to modest heritabilities. We found less evidence of parallelism in genotype-phenotype associations across these lines than in allele frequency changes during the experiments. Differential gene expression caused by differences in recent evolutionary history exceeded that caused by immediate rearing host. Together, the three genomic datasets suggest that genes affecting traits other than weight and development time are likely to be the main causes of parallel evolution and that detoxification genes (especially cytochrome P450s and beta-glucosidase) could be especially important for colonization of lentil by C. maculatus.
  5. Smith, Stephen (Ed.)
    Abstract Understanding how gene flow affects population divergence and speciation remains challenging. Differentiating one evolutionary process from another can be difficult because multiple processes can produce similar patterns, and more than one process can occur simultaneously. Although simple population models produce predictable results, how these processes balance in taxa with patchy distributions and complicated natural histories is less certain. These types of populations might be highly connected through migration (gene flow), but can experience stronger effects of genetic drift and inbreeding, or localized selection. Although different signals can be difficult to separate, the application of high-throughput sequence data can provide the resolution necessary to distinguish many of these processes. We present whole-genome sequence data for an avian species group with an alpine and arctic tundra distribution to examine the role that different population genetic processes have played in their evolutionary history. Rosy-finches inhabit high elevation mountaintop sky islands and high-latitude island and continental tundra. They exhibit extensive plumage variation coupled with low levels of genetic variation. Additionally, the number of species within the complex is debated, making them excellent for studying the forces involved in the process of diversification, as well as an important species group in which to investigatemore »species boundaries. Total genomic variation suggests a broadly continuous pattern of allele frequency changes across the mainland taxa of this group in North America. However, phylogenomic analyses recover multiple distinct, well supported, groups that coincide with previously described morphological variation and current species-level taxonomy. Tests of introgression using D-statistics and approximate Bayesian computation reveal significant levels of introgression between multiple North American taxa. These results provide insight into the balance between divergent and homogenizing population genetic processes and highlight remaining challenges in interpreting conflict between different types of analytical approaches with whole-genome sequence data. [ABBA-BABA; approximate Bayesian computation; gene flow; phylogenomics; speciation; whole-genome sequencing.]« less