Complex patterns of local adaptation in teosinte

Complex patterns of local adaptation in teosinte

Tanja Pyhäjärvi, Matthew B. Hufford, Sofiane Mezmouk, Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra
(Submitted on 3 Aug 2012)

Populations of widely distributed species often encounter and adapt to specific environmental conditions. However, comprehensive characterization of the genetic basis of adaptation is demanding, requiring genome-wide genotype data, multiple sampled populations, and a good understanding of population structure. We have used environmental and high-density genotype data to describe the genetic basis of local adaptation in 21 populations of teosinte, the wild ancestor of maize. We found that altitude, dispersal events and admixture among subspecies formed a complex hierarchical genetic structure within teosinte. Patterns of linkage disequilibrium revealed four mega-base scale inversions that segregated among populations and had altitudinal clines. Based on patterns of differentiation and correlation with environmental variation, inversions and nongenic regions play an important role in local adaptation of teosinte. Further, we note that strongly differentiated individual populations can bias the identification of adaptive loci. The role of inversions in local adaptation has been predicted by theory and requires attention as genome-wide data become available for additional plant species. These results also suggest a potentially important role for noncoding variation, especially in large plant genomes in which the gene space represents a fraction of the entire genome.

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