skip to main content

Title: The Indirect Genetic Effect Interaction Coefficient ψ : Theoretically Essential and Empirically Neglected

The interaction effect coefficient ψ has been a much-discussed, fundamental parameter of indirect genetic effect (IGE) models since its formal mathematical description in 1997. The coefficient simultaneously describes the form of changes in trait expression caused by genes in the social environment and predicts the evolutionary consequences of those IGEs. Here, we report a striking mismatch between theoretical emphasis on ψ and its usage in empirical studies. Surveying all IGE research, we find that the coefficient ψ has not been equivalently conceptualized across studies. Several issues related to its proper empirical measurement have recently been raised, and these may severely distort interpretations about the evolutionary consequences of IGEs. We provide practical advice on avoiding such pitfalls. The majority of empirical IGE studies use an alternative variance-partitioning approach rooted in well-established statistical quantitative genetics, but several hundred estimates of ψ (from 15 studies) have been published. A significant majority are positive. In addition, IGEs with feedback, that is, involving the same trait in both interacting partners, are far more likely to be positive and of greater magnitude. Although potentially challenging to measure without bias, ψ has critically-developed theoretical underpinnings that provide unique advantages for empirical work. We advocate for a more » shift in perspective for empirical work, from ψ as a description of IGEs, to ψ as a robust predictor of evolutionary change. Approaches that “run evolution forward” can take advantage of ψ to provide falsifiable predictions about specific trait interactions, providing much-needed insight into the evolutionary consequences of IGEs.

« less
; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Heredity
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 79-90
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Genomic structural variants (SVs) can play important roles in adaptation and speciation. Yet the overall fitness effects of SVs are poorly understood, partly because accurate population-level identification of SVs requires multiple high-quality genome assemblies. Here, we use 31 chromosome-scale, haplotype-resolved genome assemblies ofTheobroma cacao—an outcrossing, long-lived tree species that is the source of chocolate—to investigate the fitness consequences of SVs in natural populations. Among the 31 accessions, we find over 160,000 SVs, which together cover eight times more of the genome than single-nucleotide polymorphisms and short indels (125 versus 15 Mb). Our results indicate that a vast majority of these SVs are deleterious: they segregate at low frequencies and are depleted from functional regions of the genome. We show that SVs influence gene expression, which likely impairs gene function and contributes to the detrimental effects of SVs. We also provide empirical support for a theoretical prediction that SVs, particularly inversions, increase genetic load through the accumulation of deleterious nucleotide variants as a result of suppressed recombination. Despite the overall detrimental effects, we identify individual SVs bearing signatures of local adaptation, several of which are associated with genes differentially expressed between populations. Genes involved in pathogen resistance are strongly enriched amongmore »these candidates, highlighting the contribution of SVs to this important local adaptation trait. Beyond revealing empirical evidence for the evolutionary importance of SVs, these 31 de novo assemblies provide a valuable resource for genetic and breeding studies inT.cacao.

    « less
  2. Abstract

    The immune system is the primary barrier to parasite infection, replication, and transmission following exposure, and variation in immunity can accordingly manifest in heterogeneity in traits that govern population-level infectious disease dynamics. While much work in ecoimmunology has focused on individual-level determinants of host immune defense (e.g., reproductive status and body condition), an ongoing challenge remains to understand the broader evolutionary and ecological contexts of this variation (e.g., phylogenetic relatedness and landscape heterogeneity) and to connect these differences into epidemiological frameworks. Ultimately, such efforts could illuminate general principles about the drivers of host defense and improve predictions and control of infectious disease. Here, we highlight recent work that synthesizes the complex drivers of immunological variation across biological scales of organization and scales these within-host differences to population-level infection outcomes. Such studies note the limitations involved in making species-level comparisons of immune phenotypes, stress the importance of spatial scale for immunology research, showcase several statistical tools for translating within-host data into epidemiological parameters, and provide theoretical frameworks for linking within- and between-host scales of infection processes. Building from these studies, we highlight several promising avenues for continued work, including the application of machine learning tools and phylogenetically controlled meta-analyses tomore »immunology data and quantifying the joint spatial and temporal dependencies in immune defense using range expansions as model systems. We also emphasize the use of organismal traits (e.g., host tolerance, competence, and resistance) as a way to interlink various scales of analysis. Such continued collaboration and disciplinary cross-talk among ecoimmunology, disease ecology, and mathematical modeling will facilitate an improved understanding of the multi-scale drivers and consequences of variation in host defense.

    « less
  3. Abstract

    The youngest Galactic supernova remnant, G1.9+0.3, probably the result of a Type Ia supernova, shows surprising anomalies in the distribution of its ejecta in space and velocity. In particular, high-velocity shocked iron is seen in several locations far from the remnant center, in some cases beyond prominent silicon and sulfur emission. These asymmetries strongly suggest a highly asymmetric explosion. We present high-resolution hydrodynamic simulations in two and three dimensions of the evolution from ages of 100 s to hundreds of years of two asymmetric Type Ia models, expanding into a uniform medium. At the age of G1.9+0.3 (about 100 yr), our 2D model shows almost no iron shocked to become visible in X-rays. Only in a much higher-density environment could significant iron be shocked, at which time the model's expansion speed is completely inconsistent with the observations of G1.9+0.3. Our 3D model, evolving the most asymmetric of a suite of Type Ia supernova models from Seitenzahl et al. (2013), shows some features resembling G1.9+0.3. We characterize its evolution with images of composition in three classes: C and O, intermediate-mass elements (IMEs), and iron-group elements (IGEs). From ages of 13 to 1800 yr, we follow the evolution of the highlymore »asymmetric initial remnant as the explosion asymmetries decrease in relative strength, to be replaced by asymmetries due to evolutionary hydrodynamic instabilities. At an age of about 100 yr, our 3D model has comparable shocked masses of C+O, IMEs, and IGEs, with about 0.03Meach. Evolutionary changes appear to be rapid enough that continued monitoring with the Chandra X-ray Observatory may show significant variations.

    « less
  4. Eaton, Deren (Ed.)
    Abstract Color polymorphism—two or more heritable color phenotypes maintained within a single breeding population—is an extreme type of intraspecific diversity widespread across the tree of life. Color polymorphism is hypothesized to be an engine for speciation, where morph loss or divergence between distinct color morphs within a species results in the rapid evolution of new lineages, and thus, color polymorphic lineages are expected to display elevated diversification rates. Multiple species in the lizard family Lacertidae are color polymorphic, making them an ideal group to investigate the evolutionary history of this trait and its influence on macroevolution. Here, we produce a comprehensive species-level phylogeny of the lizard family Lacertidae to reconstruct the evolutionary history of color polymorphism and test if color polymorphism has been a driver of diversification. Accounting for phylogenetic uncertainty with multiple phylogenies and simulation studies, we estimate an ancient origin of color polymorphism (111 Ma) within the Lacertini tribe (subfamily Lacertinae). Color polymorphism most likely evolved few times in the Lacertidae and has been lost at a much faster rate than gained. Evolutionary transitions to color polymorphism are associated with shifts in increased net diversification rate in this family of lizards. Taken together, our empirical results support long-standingmore »theoretical expectations that color polymorphism is a driver of diversification.[Color polymorphism; Lacertidae; state-dependent speciation extinction models; trait-dependent diversification.]« less
  5. Abstract

    Despite playing a critical role in evolutionary processes and outcomes, relatively little is known about rates of recombination in the vast majority of species, including squamate reptiles—the second largest order of extant vertebrates, many species of which serve as important model organisms in evolutionary and ecological studies. This paucity of data has resulted in limited resolution on questions related to the causes and consequences of rate variation between species and populations, the determinants of within-genome rate variation, as well as the general tempo of recombination rate evolution on this branch of the tree of life. In order to address these questions, it is thus necessary to begin broadening our phylogenetic sampling. We here provide the first fine-scale recombination maps for two species of spiny lizards, Sceloporus jarrovii and Sceloporus megalepidurus, which diverged at least 12 Mya. As might be expected from similarities in karyotype, population-scaled recombination landscapes are largely conserved on the broad-scale. At the same time, considerable variation exists at the fine-scale, highlighting the importance of incorporating species-specific recombination maps in future population genomic studies.