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  1. Abstract

    Speciation is often viewed as a continuum along which populations diverge until they become reproductively-isolated species. However, such divergence may be heterogeneous, proceeding in fits and bursts, rather than being uniform and gradual. We show inTimemastick insects that one component of reproductive isolation evolves non-uniformly across this continuum, whereas another does not. Specifically, we use thousands of host-preference and mating trials to study habitat and sexual isolation among 42 pairs of taxa spanning a range of genomic differentiation and divergence time. We find that habitat isolation is uncoupled from genomic differentiation within species, but accumulates linearly with it between species. In contrast, sexual isolation accumulates linearly across the speciation continuum, and thus exhibits similar dynamics to morphological traits not implicated in reproductive isolation. The results show different evolutionary dynamics for different components of reproductive isolation and highlight a special relevance for species status in the process of speciation.

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  2. Abstract

    Understanding the processes that underlie the development of population genetic structure is central to the study of evolution. Patterns of genetic structure, in turn, can reveal signatures of isolation by distance (IBD), barriers to gene flow, or even the genesis of speciation. However, it is unclear how severe range restriction might impact the processes that dominate the development of genetic structure. In narrow endemic species, is population structure likely to be adaptive in nature, or rather the result of genetic drift? In this study, we investigated patterns of genetic diversity and structure in the narrow endemic Hayden's ringlet butterfly. Specifically, we asked to what degree genetic structure in the Hayden's ringlet can be explained by IBD, isolation by resistance (IBR) (in the form of geographic or ecological barriers to migration between populations), and isolation by environment (in the form of differences in host plant availability and preference). We employed a genotyping‐by‐sequencing (GBS) approach coupled with host preference assays, Bayesian modelling, and population genomic analyses to answer these questions. Our results suggest that despite their restricted range, levels of genetic diversity in the Hayden's ringlet are comparable to those seen in more widespread butterfly species. Hayden's ringlets showed a strong preference for feeding on grasses relative to sedges, but neither larval preference nor potential host availability at sampling sites correlated with genetic structure. We conclude that geography, in the form of IBR and simple IBD, was the major driver of contemporary patterns of differentiation in this narrow endemic species.

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  3. In hybrid zones, whether barrier loci experience selection mostly independently or as a unit depends on the ratio of selection to recombination as captured by the coupling coefficient. Theory predicts a sharper transition between an uncoupled and coupled system when more loci affect hybrid fitness. However, the extent of coupling in hybrid zones has rarely been quantified. Here, we use simulations to characterize the relationship between the coupling coefficient and variance in clines across genetic loci. We then re-analyze 25 hybrid zone data sets and find that cline variances and estimated coupling coefficients form a smooth continuum from high variance and weak coupling to low variance and strong coupling. Our results are consistent with low rates of hybridization and a strong genome-wide barrier to gene flow when the coupling coefficient is much greater than 1, but also suggest that this boundary might be approached gradually and at a near constant rate over time. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  4. Genome re-arrangements such as chromosomal inversions are often involved in adaptation. As such, they experience natural selection, which can erode genetic variation. Thus, whether and how inversions can remain polymorphic for extended periods of time remains debated. Here we combine genomics, experiments, and evolutionary modeling to elucidate the processes maintaining an inversion polymorphism associated with the use of a challenging host plant (Redwood trees) inTimemastick insects. We show that the inversion is maintained by a combination of processes, finding roles for life-history trade-offs, heterozygote advantage, local adaptation to different hosts, and gene flow. We use models to show how such multi-layered regimes of balancing selection and gene flow provide resilience to help buffer populations against the loss of genetic variation, maintaining the potential for future evolution. We further show that the inversion polymorphism has persisted for millions of years and is not a result of recent introgression. We thus find that rather than being a nuisance, the complex interplay of evolutionary processes provides a mechanism for the long-term maintenance of genetic variation.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 20, 2024
  5. Host-associated microbiomes play important roles in host health and pathogen defense. In amphibians, the skin-associated microbiota can contribute to innate immunity with potential implications for disease management. Few studies have examined season-long temporal variation in the amphibian skin-associated microbiome, and the interactions between bacteria and fungi on amphibian skin remain poorly understood. We characterize season-long temporal variation in the skin-associated microbiome of the western tiger salamander ( Ambystoma mavortium ) for both bacteria and fungi between sites and across salamander life stages. Two hundred seven skin-associated microbiome samples were collected from salamanders at two Rocky Mountain lakes throughout the summer and fall of 2018, and 127 additional microbiome samples were collected from lake water and lake substrate. We used 16S rRNA and ITS amplicon sequencing with Bayesian Dirichlet-multinomial regression to estimate the relative abundances of bacterial and fungal taxa, test for differential abundance, examine microbial selection, and derive alpha diversity. We predicted the ability of bacterial communities to inhibit the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis ( Bd ), a cutaneous fungal pathogen, using stochastic character mapping and a database of Bd -inhibitory bacterial isolates. For both bacteria and fungi, we observed variation in community composition through time, between sites, and with salamander age and life stage. We further found that temporal trends in community composition were specific to each combination of salamander age, life stage, and lake. We found salamander skin to be selective for microbes, with many taxa disproportionately represented relative to the environment. Salamander skin appeared to select for predicted Bd -inhibitory bacteria, and we found a negative relationship between the relative abundances of predicted Bd -inhibitory bacteria and Bd . We hope these findings will assist in the conservation of amphibian species threatened by chytridiomycosis and other emerging diseases. 
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  6. Identifying the genetic basis of adaptation is a central goal of evolutionary biology. However, identifying genes and mutations affecting fitness remains challenging because a large number of traits and variants can influence fitness. Selected phenotypes can also be difficult to know a priori , complicating top–down genetic approaches for trait mapping that involve crosses or genome-wide association studies. In such cases, experimental genetic approaches, where one maps fitness directly and attempts to infer the traits involved afterwards, can be valuable. Here, we re-analyse data from a transplant experiment involving Timema stick insects, where five physically clustered single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with cryptic body coloration were shown to interact to affect survival. Our analysis covers a larger genomic region than past work and revealed a locus previously not identified as associated with survival. This locus resides near a gene, Punch ( Pu ) , involved in pteridine pigments production, implying that it could be associated with an unmeasured coloration trait. However, by combining previous and newly obtained phenotypic data, we show that this trait is not eye or body coloration. We discuss the implications of our results for the discovery of traits, genes and mutations associated with fitness in other systems, as well as for supergene evolution. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Genetic basis of adaptation and speciation: from loci to causative mutations’. 
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