skip to main content

Title: Genomic variation in the American pika: signatures of geographic isolation and implications for conservation
Abstract Background Distributional responses by alpine taxa to repeated, glacial-interglacial cycles throughout the last two million years have significantly influenced the spatial genetic structure of populations. These effects have been exacerbated for the American pika ( Ochotona princeps ), a small alpine lagomorph constrained by thermal sensitivity and a limited dispersal capacity. As a species of conservation concern, long-term lack of gene flow has important consequences for landscape genetic structure and levels of diversity within populations. Here, we use reduced representation sequencing (ddRADseq) to provide a genome-wide perspective on patterns of genetic variation across pika populations representing distinct subspecies. To investigate how landscape and environmental features shape genetic variation, we collected genetic samples from distinct geographic regions as well as across finer spatial scales in two geographically proximate mountain ranges of eastern Nevada. Results Our genome-wide analyses corroborate range-wide, mitochondrial subspecific designations and reveal pronounced fine-scale population structure between the Ruby Mountains and East Humboldt Range of eastern Nevada. Populations in Nevada were characterized by low genetic diversity (π = 0.0006–0.0009; θ W  = 0.0005–0.0007) relative to populations in California (π = 0.0014–0.0019; θ W  = 0.0011–0.0017) and the Rocky Mountains (π = 0.0025–0.0027; θ W  = 0.0021–0.0024), indicating substantial genetic drift in these isolated populations. Tajima’s D was more » positive for all sites ( D  = 0.240–0.811), consistent with recent contraction in population sizes range-wide. Conclusions Substantial influences of geography, elevation and climate variables on genetic differentiation were also detected and may interact with the regional effects of anthropogenic climate change to force the loss of unique genetic lineages through continued population extirpations in the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1637686
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10303157
Journal Name:
BMC Ecology and Evolution
Volume:
21
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2730-7182
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Background Microbes and their viruses are hidden engines driving Earth’s ecosystems from the oceans and soils to humans and bioreactors. Though gene marker approaches can now be complemented by genome-resolved studies of inter-(macrodiversity) and intra-(microdiversity) population variation, analytical tools to do so remain scattered or under-developed. Results Here, we introduce MetaPop, an open-source bioinformatic pipeline that provides a single interface to analyze and visualize microbial and viral community metagenomes at both the macro - and microdiversity levels. Macrodiversity estimates include population abundances and α- and β-diversity. Microdiversity calculations include identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms, novel codon-constrained linkage of SNPs, nucleotide diversity ( π and θ ), and selective pressures (pN/pS and Tajima’s D ) within and fixation indices ( F ST ) between populations. MetaPop will also identify genes with distinct codon usage. Following rigorous validation, we applied MetaPop to the gut viromes of autistic children that underwent fecal microbiota transfers and their neurotypical peers. The macrodiversity results confirmed our prior findings for viral populations (microbial shotgun metagenomes were not available) that diversity did not significantly differ between autistic and neurotypical children. However, by also quantifying microdiversity, MetaPop revealed lower average viral nucleotide diversity ( π ) in autisticmore »children. Analysis of the percentage of genomes detected under positive selection was also lower among autistic children, suggesting that higher viral π in neurotypical children may be beneficial because it allows populations to better “bet hedge” in changing environments. Further, comparisons of microdiversity pre- and post-FMT in autistic children revealed that the delivery FMT method (oral versus rectal) may influence viral activity and engraftment of microdiverse viral populations, with children who received their FMT rectally having higher microdiversity post-FMT. Overall, these results show that analyses at the macro level alone can miss important biological differences. Conclusions These findings suggest that standardized population and genetic variation analyses will be invaluable for maximizing biological inference, and MetaPop provides a convenient tool package to explore the dual impact of macro - and microdiversity across microbial communities.« less
  2. Understanding the factors influencing the current distribution of genetic diversity across a species range is one of the main questions of evolutionary biology, especially given the increasing threat to biodiversity posed by climate change. Historical demographic processes such as population expansion or bottlenecks and decline are known to exert a predominant influence on past and current levels of genetic diversity, and revealing this demo‐genetic history can have immediate conservation implications. We used a whole‐exome capture sequencing approach to analyze polymorphism across the gene space of red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.), an endemic and emblematic tree species of eastern North America high‐elevation forests that are facing the combined threat of global warming and increasing human activities. We sampled a total of 340 individuals, including populations from the current core of the range in northeastern USA and southeastern Canada and from the southern portions of its range along the Appalachian Mountains, where populations occur as highly fragmented mountaintop “sky islands.” Exome capture baits were designed from the closely relative white spruce (P. glauca Voss) transcriptome, and sequencing successfully captured most regions on or near our target genes, resulting in the generation of a new and expansive genomic resource for studying standing geneticmore »variation in red spruce applicable to its conservation. Our results, based on over 2 million exome‐derived variants, indicate that red spruce is structured into three distinct ancestry groups that occupy different geographic regions of its highly fragmented range. Moreover, these groups show small Ne , with a temporal history of sustained population decline that has been ongoing for thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of years. These results demonstrate the broad potential of genomic studies for revealing details of the demographic history that can inform management and conservation efforts of nonmodel species with active restoration programs, such as red spruce.« less
  3. 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
  4. Quaternary climate change has been strongly linked to distributional shifts and recent species diversification. Montane species, in particular, have experienced enhanced isolation and rapid genetic divergence during glacial fluctuations, and these processes have resulted in a disproportionate number of neo-endemic species forming in high elevation habitats. In temperate montane environments, a general model of alpine population history is well supported, where cold-specialized species track favorable climate conditions downslope during glacial episodes and upslope during warmer interglacial periods, which leads to a climate-driven population or species diversification pump. However, it remains unclear how geography mediates distributional changes and whether certain episodes of glacial history have differentially impacted rates of diversification. We address these questions by examining phylogenomic data in a North American clade of flightless, cold-specialized insects, the ice crawlers (Insecta: Grylloblattodea: Grylloblattidae: Grylloblatta). These low vagility organisms have the potential to reveal highly localized refugia and patterns of spatial recolonization, as well as a longer history of in situ diversification. Using continuous phylogeographic analysis of species groups, we show that all species tend to retreat to nearby low elevation habitats across western North America during episodes of glaciation, but species at high latitude exhibit larger distributional shifts. Lineage diversification wasmore »examined over the course of the Neogene and Quaternary periods, with statistical analysis supporting a direct association between climate variation and diversification rate. Major increases in lineage diversification appear correlated to warm and dry periods, rather than extreme glacial events. Finally, we identify substantial cryptic diversity among ice crawlers, leading to high endemism across their range. This diversity provides new insights into highly localized glacial refugia for cold-specialized species across western North America.« less
  5. Abstract The crop wild relative Fragaria nilgerrensis is adapted to a variety of diverse habitats across its native range in China. Thus, discoveries made in this species could serve as a useful guide in the development of new superior strawberry cultivars that are resilient to new or variable environments. However, the genetic diversity and genetic architecture of traits in this species underlying important adaptive traits remain poorly understood. Here, we used whole-genome resequencing data from 193 F. nilgerrensis individuals spanning the distribution range in China to investigate the genetic diversity, population structure and genomic basis of local adaptation. We identified four genetic groups, with the western group located in Hengduan Mountains exhibiting the highest genetic diversity. Redundancy analysis suggested that both environment and geographic variables shaped a significant proportion of the genomic variation. Our analyses revealed that the environmental difference explains more of the observed genetic variation than geographic distance. This suggests that adaptation to distinct habitats, which present a unique combination of abiotic factors, likely drove genetic differentiation. Lastly, by implementing selective sweep scans and genome–environment association analysis throughout the genome, we identified the genetic variation associated with local adaptation and investigated the functions of putative candidate genes inmore »F. nilgerrensis.« less