skip to main content

Title: Phylogenomics, introgression, and demographic history of South American true toads ( Rhinella )

The effects of genetic introgression on species boundaries and how they affect species’ integrity and persistence over evolutionary time have received increased attention. The increasing availability of genomic data has revealed contrasting patterns of gene flow across genomic regions, which impose challenges to inferences of evolutionary relationships and of patterns of genetic admixture across lineages. By characterizing patterns of variation across thousands of genomic loci in a widespread complex of true toads (Rhinella), we assess the true extent of genetic introgression across species thought to hybridize to extreme degrees based on natural history observations and multilocus analyses. Comprehensive geographic sampling of five large‐ranged Neotropical taxa revealed multiple distinct evolutionary lineages that span large geographic areas and, at times, distinct biomes. The inferred major clades and genetic clusters largely correspond to currently recognized taxa; however, we also found evidence of cryptic diversity within taxa. While previous phylogenetic studies revealed extensive mitonuclear discordance, our genetic clustering analyses uncovered several admixed individuals within major genetic groups. Accordingly, historical demographic analyses supported that the evolutionary history of these toads involved cross‐taxon gene flow both at ancient and recent times. Lastly, ABBA‐BABA tests revealed widespread allele sharing across species boundaries, a pattern that can be confidently attributed to genetic introgression as opposed to incomplete lineage sorting. These results confirm previous assertions that the evolutionary history ofRhinellawas characterized by various levels of hybridization even across environmentally heterogeneous regions, posing exciting questions about what factors prevent complete fusion of diverging yet highly interdependent evolutionary lineages.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Molecular Ecology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 978-992
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Genomic‐scale datasets, sophisticated analytical techniques, and conceptual advances have disproportionately failed to resolve species boundaries in some groups relative to others. To understand the processes that underlie taxonomic intractability, we dissect the speciation history of an Australian lizard clade that arguably represents a “worst‐case” scenario for species delimitation within vertebrates: theCtenotus inornatusspecies group, a clade beset with decoupled genetic and phenotypic breaks, uncertain geographic ranges, and parallelism in purportedly diagnostic morphological characters. We sampled hundreds of localities to generate a genomic perspective on population divergence, structure, and admixture. Our results revealed rampant paraphyly of nominate taxa in the group, with lineages that are either morphologically cryptic or polytypic. Isolation‐by‐distance patterns reflect spatially continuous differentiation among certain pairs of putative species, yet genetic and geographic distances are decoupled in other pairs. Comparisons of mitochondrial and nuclear gene trees, tests of nuclear introgression, and historical demographic modelling identified gene flow between divergent candidate species. Levels of admixture are decoupled from phylogenetic relatedness; gene flow is often higher between sympatric species than between parapatric populations of the same species. Such idiosyncratic patterns of introgression contribute to species boundaries that are fuzzy while also varying in fuzziness. Our results suggest that “taxonomic disaster zones” like theC. inornatusspecies group result from spatial variation in the porosity of species boundaries and the resulting patterns of genetic and phenotypic variation. This study raises questions about the origin and persistence of hybridizing species and highlights the unique insights provided by taxa that have long eluded straightforward taxonomic categorization.

    more » « less
  2. Kubatko, Laura (Ed.)
    Abstract Evidence from natural systems suggests that hybridization between animal species is more common than traditionally thought, but the overall contribution of introgression to standing genetic variation within species remains unclear for most animal systems. Here, we use targeted exon capture to sequence thousands of nuclear loci and complete mitochondrial genomes from closely related chipmunk species in the Tamias quadrivittatus group that are distributed across the Great Basin and the central and southern Rocky Mountains of North America. This recent radiation includes six overlapping, ecologically distinct species (Tamias canipes, Tamias cinereicollis, Tamias dorsalis, T. quadrivittatus, Tamias rufus, and Tamias umbrinus) that show evidence for widespread introgression across species boundaries. Such evidence has historically been derived from a handful of markers, typically focused on mitochondrial loci, to describe patterns of introgression; consequently, the extent of introgression of nuclear genes is less well characterized. We conducted a series of phylogenomic and species-tree analyses to resolve the phylogeny of six species in this group. In addition, we performed several population-genomic analyses to characterize nuclear genomes and infer coancestry among individuals. Furthermore, we used emerging quartets-based approaches to simultaneously infer the species tree (SVDquartets) and identify introgression (HyDe). We found that, in spite of rampant introgression of mitochondrial genomes between some species pairs (and sometimes involving up to three species), there appears to be little to no evidence for nuclear introgression. These findings mirror other genomic results where complete mitochondrial capture has occurred between chipmunk species in the absence of appreciable nuclear gene flow. The underlying causes of recurrent massive cytonuclear discordance remain unresolved in this group but mitochondrial DNA appears highly misleading of population histories as a whole. Collectively, it appears that chipmunk species boundaries are largely impermeable to nuclear gene flow and that hybridization, while pervasive with respect to mtDNA, has likely played a relatively minor role in the evolutionary history of this group. [Cytonuclear discordance; hyridization; introgression, phylogenomics; SVDquartets; Tamias.] 
    more » « less
  3. Baldauf, Sandra (Ed.)
    Abstract The southwestern and central United States serve as an ideal region to test alternative hypotheses regarding biotic diversification. Genomic data can now be combined with sophisticated computational models to quantify the impacts of paleoclimate change, geographic features, and habitat heterogeneity on spatial patterns of genetic diversity. In this study, we combine thousands of genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) loci with mtDNA sequences (ND1) from the Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) to quantify relative support for different catalysts of diversification. Phylogenetic and clustering analyses of the GBS data indicate support for at least three primary populations. The spatial distribution of populations appears concordant with habitat type, with desert populations in AZ and NM showing the largest genetic divergence from the remaining populations. The mtDNA data also support a divergent desert population, but other relationships differ and suggest mtDNA introgression. Genotype–environment association with bioclimatic variables supports divergence along precipitation gradients more than along temperature gradients. Demographic analyses support a complex history, with introgression and gene flow playing an important role during diversification. Bayesian multispecies coalescent analyses with introgression (MSci) analyses also suggest that gene flow occurred between populations. Paleo-species distribution models support two southern refugia that geographically correspond to contemporary lineages. We find that divergence times are underestimated and population sizes are overestimated when introgression occurred and is ignored in coalescent analyses, and furthermore, inference of ancient introgression events and demographic history is sensitive to inclusion of a single recently admixed sample. Our analyses cannot refute the riverine barrier or glacial refugia hypotheses. Results also suggest that populations are continuing to diverge along habitat gradients. Finally, the strong evidence of admixture, gene flow, and mtDNA introgression among populations suggests that P. cornutum should be considered a single widespread species under the General Lineage Species Concept. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Nylanderia(Emery) is one of the world's most diverse ant genera, with 123 described species worldwide and hundreds more undescribed. Fifteen globetrotting or invasive species have widespread distributions and are often encountered outside their native ranges. A molecular approach to understanding the evolutionary history and to revision ofNylanderiataxonomy is needed because historical efforts based on morphology have proven insufficient to define major lineages and delimit species boundaries, especially where adventive species are concerned. To address these problems, we generated the first genus‐wide genomic dataset ofNylanderiausing ultraconserved elements (UCEs) to resolve the phylogeny of major lineages, determine the age and origin of the genus, and describe global biogeographical patterns. Sampling from seven biogeographical regions revealed a Southeast Asian origin ofNylanderiain the mid‐Eocene and four distinct biogeographical clades in the Nearctic, the Neotropics, the Afrotropics/Malagasy region, and Australasia. The Nearctic and Neotropical clades are distantly related, indicating two separate dispersal events to the Americas between the late Oligocene and early Miocene. We also addressed the problem of misidentification that has characterized species‐level taxonomy inNylanderiaas a result of limited morphological variation in the worker caste by evaluating the integrity of species boundaries in six of the most widespreadNylanderiaspecies. We sampled across ranges of species in theN. bourbonicacomplex (N. bourbonica(Forel) + N. vaga(Forel)), theN. fulvacomplex (N. fulva(Mayr) + N. pubens(Forel)), and theN. guatemalensiscomplex (N. guatemalensis(Forel) + N. steinheili(Forel)) to clarify their phylogenetic placement. Deep splits within these complexes suggest that some species names – specificallyN. bourbonicaandN. guatemalensis– each are applied to multiple cryptic species. In exhaustively samplingNylanderiadiversity in the West Indies, a ‘hot spot’ for invasive taxa, we found five adventive species among 22 in the region; many remain morphologically indistinguishable from one another, despite being distantly related. We stress that overcoming the taxonomic impediment through the use of molecular phylogeny and revisionary study is essential for conservation and invasive species management.

    more » « less
  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 investigate 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.] 
    more » « less