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Creators/Authors contains: "Bolnick, Daniel I."

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  1. Abstract

    Recent studies have shown that the repeated evolution of similar phenotypes in response to similar ecological conditions (here “parallel evolution”) often occurs through mutations in the same genes. However, many previous studies have focused on known candidate genes in a limited number of systems. Thus, the question of how often parallel phenotypic evolution is due to parallel genetic changes remains open. Here, we used quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping in F2 intercrosses between lake and stream threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) from four independent watersheds on Vancouver Island, Canada to determine whether the same QTL underlie divergence in the same phenotypes across, between, and within watersheds. We find few parallel QTL, even in independent crosses from the same watershed or for phenotypes that have diverged in parallel. These findings suggest that different mutations can lead to similar phenotypes. The low genetic repeatability observed in these lake-stream systems contrasts with the higher genetic repeatability observed in other stickleback systems. We speculate that differences in evolutionary history, gene flow, and/or the strength and direction of selection might explain these differences in genetic parallelism and emphasize that more work is needed to move beyond documenting genetic parallelism to identifying the underlying causes.

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  2. Rawls, John F. ; McFall-Ngai, Margaret J. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Commensal microbial communities have immense effects on their vertebrate hosts, contributing to a number of physiological functions, as well as host fitness. In particular, host immunity is strongly linked to microbiota composition through poorly understood bi-directional links. Gene expression may be a potential mediator of these links between microbial communities and host function. However, few studies have investigated connections between microbiota composition and expression of host immune genes in complex systems. Here, we leverage a large study of laboratory-raised fish from the species Gasterosteus aculeatus (three-spined stickleback) to document correlations between gene expression and microbiome composition. First, we examined correlations between microbiome alpha diversity and gene expression. Our results demonstrate robust positive associations between microbial alpha diversity and expression of host immune genes. Next, we examined correlations between host gene expression and abundance of microbial taxa. We identified 15 microbial families that were highly correlated with host gene expression. These families were all tightly correlated with host expression of immune genes and processes, falling into one of three categories—those positively correlated, negatively correlated, and neutrally related to immune processes. Furthermore, we highlight several important immune processes that are commonly associated with the abundance of these taxa, including both macrophage and B cell functions. Further functional characterization of microbial taxa will help disentangle the mechanisms of the correlations described here. In sum, our study supports prevailing hypotheses of intimate links between host immunity and gut microbiome composition. IMPORTANCE Here, we document associations between host gene expression and gut microbiome composition in a nonmammalian vertebrate species. We highlight associations between expression of immune genes and both microbiome diversity and abundance of specific microbial taxa. These findings support other findings from model systems which have suggested that gut microbiome composition and host immunity are intimately linked. Furthermore, we demonstrate that these correlations are truly systemic; the gene expression detailed here was collected from an important fish immune organ (the head kidney) that is anatomically distant from the gut. This emphasizes the systemic impact of connections between gut microbiota and host immune function. Our work is a significant advancement in the understanding of immune-microbiome links in nonmodel, natural systems. 
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  3. Abstract

    Many generalist species consist of specialised individuals that use different resources. This within‐population niche variation can stabilise population and community dynamics. Consequently, ecologists wish to identify environmental settings that promote such variation. Theory predicts that environments with greater resource diversity favour ecological diversity among consumers (via disruptive selection or plasticity). Alternatively, niche variation might be a side‐effect of neutral genomic diversity in larger populations. We tested these alternatives in a metapopulation of threespine stickleback. Stickleback consume benthic and limnetic invertebrates, focusing on the former in small lakes, the latter in large lakes. Intermediate‐sized lakes support generalist stickleback populations using an even mixture of the two prey types, and exhibit greater among‐individual variation in diet and morphology. In contrast, genomic diversity increases with lake size. Thus, phenotypic diversity and neutral genetic polymorphism are decoupled: trophic diversity being greatest in intermediate‐sized lakes with high resource diversity, whereas neutral genetic diversity is greatest in the largest lakes.

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  4. Abstract

    Recent methodological advances have led to a rapid expansion of evolutionary studies employing three‐dimensional landmark‐based geometric morphometrics (GM). GM methods generally enable researchers to capture and compare complex shape phenotypes, and to quantify their relationship to environmental gradients. However, some recent studies have shown that the common, inexpensive, and relatively rapid two‐dimensional GM methods can distort important information and produce misleading results because they cannot capture variation in the depth (Z) dimension. We use micro‐CT scanned threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatusLinnaeus, 1758) from six parapatric lake‐stream populations on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to test whether the loss of the depth dimension in 2D GM studies results in misleading interpretations of parallel evolution. Using joint locations described with 2D or 3D landmarks, we compare results from separate 2D and 3D shape spaces, from a combined 2D‐3D shape space, and from estimates of biomechanical function. We show that, although shape is distorted enough in 2D projections to strongly influence the interpretation of morphological parallelism, estimates of biomechanical function are relatively robust to the loss of the Z dimension.

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