Origin and cross-century dynamics of an avian hybrid zone
Andrea Morales-Rozo, Elkin A. Tenorio, Matthew D. Carling, Carlos Daniel Cadena
Background: Characterizations of the dynamics of hybrid zones in space and time can give insights about traits and processes important in population divergence and speciation. We characterized a hybrid zone between tanagers in the genus Ramphocelus (Aves, Thraupidae) located in southwestern Colombia. We tested whether this hybrid zone originated as a result of secondary contact or of primary differentiation, and described its dynamics across time using spatial analyses of molecular, morphological, and coloration data in combination with paleodistribution modeling. Results: Models of potential historical distributions based on climatic data and genetic signatures of demographic expansion suggested that the hybrid zone originated following secondary contact between populations that expanded their ranges out of isolated areas in the Quaternary. Concordant patterns of variation in phenotypic characters across the hybrid zone and its narrow extent are suggestive of a tension zone, maintained by a balance between dispersal and selection against hybrids. Estimates of phenotypic cline parameters obtained using specimens collected over nearly a century revealed that, in recent decades, the zone has moved to the east and to higher elevations, and has become narrower. Genetic variation was not clearly structured along the hybrid zone, but comparisons between historical and contemporary specimens suggested that temporal changes in its genetic makeup may also have occurred. Conclusions: Our data suggest that the hybrid zone resulted from secondary contact between populations. The observed changes in the hybrid zone may be a result of sexual selection, asymmetric gene flow, or environmental change.
Dynamic epistasis for different alleles of the same gene
Lin Xu, Brandon Barker, Zhenglong Gu
(Submitted on 24 Nov 2014)
Epistasis refers to the phenomenon in which phenotypic consequences caused by mutation of one gene depend on one or more mutations at another gene. Epistasis is critical for understanding many genetic and evolutionary processes, including pathway organization, evolution of sexual reproduction, mutational load, ploidy, genomic complexity, speciation, and the origin of life. Nevertheless, current understandings for the genome-wide distribution of epistasis are mostly inferred from interactions among one mutant type per gene, whereas how epistatic interaction partners change dynamically for different mutant alleles of the same gene is largely unknown. Here we address this issue by combining predictions from flux balance analysis and data from a recently published high-throughput experiment. Our results show that different alleles can epistatically interact with very different gene sets. Furthermore, between two random mutant alleles of the same gene, the chance for the allele with more severe mutational consequence to develop a higher percentage of negative epistasis than the other allele is 50-70% in eukaryotic organisms, but only 20-30% in bacteria and archaea. We developed a population genetics model that predicts that the observed distribution for the sign of epistasis can speed up the process of purging deleterious mutations in eukaryotic organisms. Our results indicate that epistasis among genes can be dynamically rewired at the genome level, and call on future efforts to revisit theories that can integrate epistatic dynamics among genes in biological systems.
Genetic landscape of populations along the Silk Road: admixture and migration patterns
Massimo Mezzavilla, Diego Vozzi, Nicola Pirastu, Giorgia Girotto, Pio D’Adamo, Paolo Gasparini, Vincenza Colonna
Background The ancient Silk Road has been a trading route between Europe and Central Asia from the 2nd century BCE to the 15th century CE. While most populations on this route have been characterized, the genetic background of others remains poorly understood, and little is known about past migration patterns. The scientific expedition “Marco Polo” has recently collected genetic and phenotypic data in six regions (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan) along the Silk Road to study the genetics of a number of phenotypes. Results We characterized the genetic structure of these populations within a worldwide context. We observed a West-East subdivision albeit the existence of a genetic component shared within Central Asia and nearby populations from Europe and Near East. We observed a contribution of up to 50% from Europe and Asia to most of the populations that have been analyzed. The contribution from Asia dates back to ~25 generations and is limited to the Eastern Silk Road. Time and direction of this contribution are consistent with the Mongolian expansion era. Conclusions We clarified the genetic structure of six populations from Central Asia and suggested a complex pattern of gene flow among them. We provided a map of migration events in time and space and we quantified exchanges among populations. Altogether these novel findings will support the future studies aimed at understanding the genetics of the phenotypes that have been collected during the Marco Polo campaign, they will provide insights into the history of these populations, and they will be useful to reconstruct the developments and events that have shaped modern Eurasians genomes.
Strong selection in the human-chimpanzee ancestor links the X chromosome to speciation
Julien Y Dutheil, Kasper Munch, Thomas Mailund, Kiwoong Nam, Mikkel Schierup
The human and chimpanzee X chromosomes are less divergent than expected based on autosomal divergence. This has led to a controversial hypothesis proposing a unique role of the X chromosome in complex human-chimpanzee speciation. Here, we study incomplete lineage sorting patterns between humans, chimpanzees and gorillas to show that this low divergence is entirely due to megabase-sized regions comprising one-third of the X chromosome, where polymorphism in the human-chimpanzee ancestral species was severely reduced. Background selection can explain 10% of this reduction at most. Instead, we show that several strong selective sweeps in the ancestral species can explain these patterns. We also report evidence of population specific sweeps of a similar magnitude in extant humans that overlap the regions of low diversity in the ancestral species. These regions further correspond to chromosomal sections shown to be devoid of Neanderthal introgression into modern humans. This suggests that these X-linked regions are directly involved in forming reproductive barriers.
Expansion load: recessive mutations and the role of standing genetic variation
Stephan Peischl, Laurent Excoffier
Expanding populations incur a mutation burden – the so-called expansion load. Previous studies of expansion load have focused on co-dominant mutations. An important consequence of this assumption is that expansion load stems exclusively from the accumulation of new mutations occurring in individuals living at the wave front. Using individual-based simulations we study here the dynamics of standing genetic variation at the front of expansions, and its consequences on mean fitness if mutations are recessive. We find that deleterious genetic diversity is quickly lost at the front of the expansion, but the loss of deleterious mutations at some loci is compensated by an increase of their frequencies at other loci. The frequency of deleterious homozygotes therefore increases along the expansion axis whereas the average number of deleterious mutations per individual remains nearly constant across the species range. This reveals two important differences to co-dominant models: (i) mean fitness at the front of the expansion drops much faster if mutations are recessive, and (ii) mutation load can increase during the expansion even if the total number of deleterious mutations per individual remains constant. We use our model to make predictions about the shape of the site frequency spectrum at the front of range expansion, and about correlations between heterozygosity and fitness in different parts of the species range. Importantly, these predictions provide opportunities to empirically validate our theoretical results. We discuss our findings in the light of recent results on the distribution of deleterious genetic variation across human populations, and link them to empirical results on the correlation of heterozygosity and fitness found in many natural range expansions.
Full-genome evolutionary histories of selfing, splitting and selection in Caenorhabditis
Cristel G. Thomas, Wei Wang, Richard Jovelin, Rajarshi Ghosh, Tatiana Lomasko, Quang Trinh, Leonid Kruglyak, Lincoln D Stein, Asher D Cutter
The nematode Caenorhabditis briggsae is a model for comparative developmental evolution with C. elegans. Worldwide collections of C. briggsae have implicated an intriguing history of divergence among genetic groups separated by latitude, or by restricted geography, that is being exploited to dissect the genetic basis to adaptive evolution and reproductive incompatibility. And yet, the genomic scope and timing of population divergence is unclear. We performed high-coverage whole-genome sequencing of 37 wild isolates of the nematode C. briggsae and applied a pairwise sequentially Markovian coalescent (PSMC) model to 703 combinations of genomic haplotypes to draw inferences about population history, the genomic scope of natural selection, and to compare with 40 wild isolates of C. elegans. We estimate that a diaspora of at least 6 distinct C. briggsae lineages separated from one another approximately 200 thousand generations ago, including the ???Temperate??? and ???Tropical??? phylogeographic groups that dominate most samples from around the world. Moreover, an ancient population split in its history 2 million generations ago, coupled with only rare gene flow among lineage groups, validates this system as a model for incipient speciation. Low versus high recombination regions of the genome give distinct signatures of population size change through time, indicative of widespread effects of selection on highly linked portions of the genome owing to extreme inbreeding by self-fertilization. Analysis of functional mutations indicates that genomic context, owing to selection that acts on long linkage blocks, is a more important driver of population variation than are the functional attributes of the individually encoded genes.
Bayesian analyses of Yemeni mitochondrial genomes suggest multiple migration events with Africa and Western Eurasia
Deven Nikunj Vyas, Andrew Kitchen, Aida Teresa Miró-Herrans, Laurel Nichole Pearson, Ali Al-Meeri, Connie Jo Mulligan
Anatomically modern humans (AMHs) left Africa ~60,000 years ago, marking the first of multiple dispersal events by AMH between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The southern dispersal route (SDR) out of Africa (OOA) posits that early AMHs crossed the Bab el-Mandeb strait from the Horn of Africa into what is now Yemen and followed the coast of the Indian Ocean into eastern Eurasia. If AMHs followed the SDR and left modern descendants in situ, Yemeni populations should retain old autochthonous mitogenome lineages. Alternatively, if AMHs did not follow the SDR or did not leave modern descendants in the region, only young autochthonous lineages will remain as evidence of more recent dispersals. We sequenced 113 whole mitogenomes from multiple Yemeni regions with a focus on haplogroups M, N, and L3(xM,N) as they are considered markers of the initial OOA migrations. We performed Bayesian evolutionary analyses to generate time-measured phylogenies calibrated by Neanderthal and Denisovan mitogenome sequences in order to determine the age of Yemeni-specific clades in our dataset. Our results indicate that the M1, N1, and L3(xM,N) sequences in Yemen are the product of recent migration from Africa and western Eurasia. Although these data suggest that modern Yemeni mitogenomes are not markers of the original OOA migrants, we hypothesize that recent population dynamics may obscure any genetic signature of an ancient SDR migration.