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  1. The origins of maize were the topic of vigorous debate for nearly a century, but neither the current genetic model nor earlier archaeological models account for the totality of available data, and recent work has highlighted the potential contribution of a wild relative,Zea maysssp.mexicana. Our population genetic analysis reveals that the origin of modern maize can be traced to an admixture between ancient maize andZea maysssp.mexicanain the highlands of Mexico some 4000 years after domestication began. We show that variation in admixture is a key component of maize diversity, both at individual loci and for additive genetic variation underlying agronomic traits. Our results clarify the origin of modern maize and raise new questions about the anthropogenic mechanisms underlying dispersal throughout the Americas.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Jennions, Michael D. (Ed.)
    When two species meet in secondary contact, the production of low fitness hybrids may be prevented by the adaptive evolution of increased prezygotic isolation, a process known as reinforcement. Theoretical challenges to the evolution of reinforcement are generally cast as a coordination problem, i.e., “how can statistical associations between traits and preferences be maintained in the face of recombination?” However, the evolution of reinforcement also poses a potential conflict between mates. For example, the opportunity costs to hybridization may differ between the sexes or species. This is particularly likely for reinforcement based on postmating prezygotic (PMPZ) incompatibilities, as the ability to fertilize both conspecific and heterospecific eggs is beneficial to male gametes, but heterospecific mating may incur a cost for female gametes. We develop a population genetic model of interspecific conflict over reinforcement inspired by “gametophytic factors”, which act as PMPZ barriers among Zea mays subspecies. We demonstrate that this conflict results in the transient evolution of reinforcement—after females adaptively evolve to reject gametes lacking a signal common in conspecific gametes, this gamete signal adaptively introgresses into the other population. Ultimately, the male gamete signal fixes in both species, and isolation returns to pre-reinforcement levels. We interpret geographic patterns of isolation among Z . mays subspecies considering these findings and suggest when and how this conflict can be resolved. Our results suggest that sexual conflict over fertilization may pose an understudied obstacle to the evolution of reinforcement. 
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  3. Abstract

    Poa pratensis, commonly known as Kentucky bluegrass, is a popular cool-season grass species used as turf in lawns and recreation areas globally. Despite its substantial economic value, a reference genome had not previously been assembled due to the genome’s relatively large size and biological complexity that includes apomixis, polyploidy, and interspecific hybridization. We report here a fortuitous de novo assembly and annotation of a P. pratensis genome. Instead of sequencing the genome of a C4 grass, we accidentally sampled and sequenced tissue from a weedy P. pratensis whose stolon was intertwined with that of the C4 grass. The draft assembly consists of 6.09 Gbp with an N50 scaffold length of 65.1 Mbp, and a total of 118 scaffolds, generated using PacBio long reads and Bionano optical map technology. We annotated 256K gene models and found 58% of the genome to be composed of transposable elements. To demonstrate the applicability of the reference genome, we evaluated population structure and estimated genetic diversity in P. pratensis collected from three North American prairies, two in Manitoba, Canada and one in Colorado, USA. Our results support previous studies that found high genetic diversity and population structure within the species. The reference genome and annotation will be an important resource for turfgrass breeding and study of bluegrasses.

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  4. Betran, Esther (Ed.)
    Abstract Recognition of the important role of transposable elements (TEs) in eukaryotic genomes quickly led to a burgeoning literature modeling and estimating the effects of selection on TEs. Much of the empirical work on selection has focused on analyzing the site frequency spectrum (SFS) of TEs. But TE evolution differs from standard models in a number of ways that can impact the power and interpretation of the SFS. For example, rather than mutating under a clock-like model, transposition often occurs in bursts which can inflate particular frequency categories compared with expectations under a standard neutral model. If a TE burst has been recent, the excess of low-frequency polymorphisms can mimic the effect of purifying selection. Here, we investigate how transposition bursts affect the frequency distribution of TEs and the correlation between age and allele frequency. Using information on the TE age distribution, we propose an age-adjusted SFS to compare TEs and neutral polymorphisms to more effectively evaluate whether TEs are under selective constraints. We show that our approach can minimize instances of false inference of selective constraint, remains robust to simple demographic changes, and allows for a correct identification of even weak selection affecting TEs which experienced a transposition burst. The results presented here will help researchers working on TEs to more reliably identify the effects of selection on TEs without having to rely on the assumption of a constant transposition rate. 
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  5. Wright, S (Ed.)
    Abstract In plants, mammals and insects, some genes are methylated in the CG dinucleotide context, a phenomenon called gene body methylation (gbM). It has been controversial whether this phenomenon has any functional role. Here, we took advantage of the availability of 876 leaf methylomes in Arabidopsis thaliana to characterize the population frequency of methylation at the gene level and to estimate the site-frequency spectrum of allelic states. Using a population genetics model specifically designed for epigenetic data, we found that genes with ancestral gbM are under significant selection to remain methylated. Conversely, ancestrally unmethylated genes were under selection to remain unmethylated. Repeating the analyses at the level of individual cytosines confirmed these results. Estimated selection coefficients were small, on the order of 4 Nes = 1.4, which is similar to the magnitude of selection acting on codon usage. We also estimated that A. thaliana is losing gbM threefold more rapidly than gaining it, which could be due to a recent reduction in the efficacy of selection after a switch to selfing. Finally, we investigated the potential function of gbM through its link with gene expression. Across genes with polymorphic methylation states, the expression of gene body methylated alleles was consistently and significantly higher than unmethylated alleles. Although it is difficult to disentangle genetic from epigenetic effects, our work suggests that gbM has a small but measurable effect on fitness, perhaps due to its association to a phenotype-like gene expression. 
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  6. Walsh, Bruce (Ed.)
    Inbreeding depression is the reduction in fitness and vigor resulting from mating of close relatives observed in many plant and animal species. The extent to which the genetic load of mutations contributing to inbreeding depression is due to large-effect mutations versus variants with very small individual effects is unknown and may be affected by population history. We compared the effects of outcrossing and self-fertilization on 18 traits in a landrace population of maize, which underwent a population bottleneck during domestication, and a neighboring population of its wild relative teosinte. Inbreeding depression was greater in maize than teosinte for 15 of 18 traits, congruent with the greater segregating genetic load in the maize population that we predicted from sequence data. Parental breeding values were highly consistent between outcross and selfed offspring, indicating that additive effects determine most of the genetic value even in the presence of strong inbreeding depression. We developed a novel linkage scan to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) representing large-effect rare variants carried by only a single parent, which were more important in teosinte than maize. Teosinte also carried more putative juvenile-acting lethal variants identified by segregation distortion. These results suggest a mixture of mostly polygenic, small-effect partially recessive effects in linkage disequilibrium underlying inbreeding depression, with an additional contribution from rare larger-effect variants that was more important in teosinte but depleted in maize following the domestication bottleneck. Purging associated with the maize domestication bottleneck may have selected against some large effect variants, but polygenic load is harder to purge and overall segregating mutational burden increased in maize compared to teosinte. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
  8. Native Americans domesticated maize ( Zea mays ssp. mays ) from lowland teosinte parviglumis ( Zea mays ssp. parviglumis) in the warm Mexican southwest and brought it to the highlands of Mexico and South America where it was exposed to lower temperatures that imposed strong selection on flowering time. Phospholipids are important metabolites in plant responses to low-temperature and phosphorus availability and have been suggested to influence flowering time. Here, we combined linkage mapping with genome scans to identify High PhosphatidylCholine 1 ( HPC1 ), a gene that encodes a phospholipase A1 enzyme, as a major driver of phospholipid variation in highland maize. Common garden experiments demonstrated strong genotype-by-environment interactions associated with variation at HPC1, with the highland HPC1 allele leading to higher fitness in highlands, possibly by hastening flowering. The highland maize HPC1 variant resulted in impaired function of the encoded protein due to a polymorphism in a highly conserved sequence. A meta-analysis across HPC1 orthologs indicated a strong association between the identity of the amino acid at this position and optimal growth in prokaryotes. Mutagenesis of HPC1 via genome editing validated its role in regulating phospholipid metabolism. Finally, we showed that the highland HPC1 allele entered cultivated maize by introgression from the wild highland teosinte Zea mays ssp. mexicana and has been maintained in maize breeding lines from the Northern United States, Canada, and Europe. Thus, HPC1 introgressed from teosinte mexicana underlies a large metabolic QTL that modulates phosphatidylcholine levels and has an adaptive effect at least in part via induction of early flowering time. 
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  9. null (Ed.)