The genetics of divergence and reproductive isolation between ecotypes of Panicum hallii.
ABSTRACT: The process of plant speciation often involves the evolution of divergent ecotypes in response to differences in soil water availability between habitats. While the same set of traits is frequently associated with xeric/mesic ecotype divergence, it is unknown whether those traits evolve independently or if they evolve in tandem as a result of genetic colocalization either by pleiotropy or genetic linkage. The self-fertilizing C4 grass species Panicum hallii includes two major ecotypes found in xeric (var. hallii) or mesic (var. filipes) habitats. We constructed the first linkage map for P. hallii by genotyping a reduced representation genomic library of an F2 population derived from an intercross of var. hallii and filipes. We then evaluated the genetic architecture of divergence between these ecotypes through quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping. Overall, we mapped QTLs for nine morphological traits that are involved in the divergence between the ecotypes. QTLs for five key ecotype-differentiating traits all colocalized to the same region of linkage group five. Leaf physiological traits were less divergent between ecotypes, but we still mapped five physiological QTLs. We also discovered a two-locus Dobzhansky-Muller hybrid incompatibility. Our study suggests that ecotype-differentiating traits may evolve in tandem as a result of genetic colocalization.
Project description:Environmental heterogeneity can drive patterns of functional trait variation and lead to the formation of locally adapted ecotypes. Plant ecotypes are often differentiated by suites of correlated root and shoot traits that share common genetic, developmental, and physiological relationships. For instance, although plant water loss is largely governed by shoot systems, root systems determine water access and constrain shoot water status. To evaluate the genetic basis of root and shoot trait divergence, we developed a recombinant inbred population derived from mesic and xeric ecotypes of the perennial grass Panicum hallii. Our study sheds light on the genetic architecture underlying the relationships between root and shoot traits. We identified several genomic "hotspots" which control suites of correlated root and shoot traits, thus indicating genetic coordination between plant organ systems in the process of ecotypic divergence. Genomic regions of colocalized quantitative trait locus (QTL) for the majority of shoot and root growth related traits were independent of colocalized QTL for shoot and root resource acquisition traits. The allelic effects of individual QTL underscore ecological specialization for drought adaptation between ecotypes and reveal possible hybrid breakdown through epistatic interactions. These results have implications for understanding the factors constraining or facilitating local adaptation in plants.
Project description:Background:Biofuels derived from lignocellulosic plant material are an important component of current renewable energy strategies. Improvement efforts in biofuel feedstock crops have been primarily focused on increasing biomass yield with less consideration for tissue quality or composition. Four primary components found in the plant cell wall contribute to the overall quality of plant tissue and conversion characteristics, cellulose and hemicellulose polysaccharides are the primary targets for fuel conversion, while lignin and ash provide structure and defense. We explore the genetic architecture of tissue characteristics using a quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping approach in Panicum hallii, a model lignocellulosic grass system. Diversity in the mapping population was generated by crossing xeric and mesic varietals, comparative to northern upland and southern lowland ecotypes in switchgrass. We use near-infrared spectroscopy with a primary analytical method to create a P. hallii specific calibration model to quickly quantify cell wall components. Results:Ash, lignin, glucan, and xylan comprise 68% of total dry biomass in P. hallii: comparable to other feedstocks. We identified 14 QTL and one epistatic interaction across these four cell wall traits and found almost half of the QTL to localize to a single linkage group. Conclusions:Panicum hallii serves as the genomic model for its close relative and emerging biofuel crop, switchgrass (P. virgatum). We used high throughput phenotyping to map genomic regions that impact natural variation in leaf tissue composition. Understanding the genetic architecture of tissue traits in a tractable model grass system will lead to a better understanding of cell wall structure as well as provide genomic resources for bioenergy crop breeding programs.
Project description:Identifying suitable genetic stock for restoration often employs a 'best guess' approach. Without adaptive variation studies, restoration may be misguided. We test the extent to which climate in central US grasslands exerts selection pressure on a foundation grass big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), widely used in restorations, and resulting in local adaptation. We seeded three regional ecotypes of A. gerardii in reciprocal transplant garden communities across 1150 km precipitation gradient. We measured ecological responses over several timescales (instantaneous gas exchange, medium-term chlorophyll absorbance, and long-term responses of establishment and cover) in response to climate and biotic factors and tested if ecotypes could expand range. The ecotype from the driest region exhibited greatest cover under low rainfall, suggesting local adaptation under abiotic stress. Unexpectedly, no evidence for cover differences between ecotypes exists at mesic sites where establishment and cover of all ecotypes were low, perhaps due to strong biotic pressures. Expression of adaptive differences is strongly environment specific. Given observed adaptive variation, the most conservative restoration strategy would be to plant the local ecotype, especially in drier locations. With superior performance of the most xeric ecotype under dry conditions and predicted drought, this ecotype may migrate eastward, naturally or with assistance in restorations.
Project description:Biotic interactions are often acknowledged as catalysers of genetic divergence and eventual explanation of processes driving species richness. We address the question, whether extreme ecological specialization is always associated with lineage sorting, by analysing polymorphisms in morphologically similar ecotypes of the myrmecophilous butterfly Maculinea alcon. The ecotypes occur in either hygric or xeric habitats, use different larval host plants and ant species, but no significant distinctive molecular traits have been revealed so far. We apply genome-wide RAD-sequencing to specimens originating from both habitats across Europe in order to get a view of the potential evolutionary processes at work. Our results confirm that genetic variation is mainly structured geographically but not ecologically - specimens from close localities are more related to each other than populations of each ecotype from distant localities. However, we found two loci for which the association with xeric versus hygric habitats is supported by segregating alleles, suggesting convergent evolution of habitat preference. Thus, ecological divergence between the forms probably does not represent an early stage of speciation, but may result from independent recurring adaptations involving few genes. We discuss the implications of these results for conservation and suggest preserving biotic interactions and main genetic clusters.
Project description:Abstract Plant response to climate depends on a species’ adaptive potential. To address this, we used reciprocal gardens to detect genetic and environmental plasticity effects on phenotypic variation and combined with genetic analyses. Four reciprocal garden sites were planted with three regional ecotypes of Andropogon gerardii, a dominant Great Plains prairie grass, using dry, mesic, and wet ecotypes originating from western KS to Illinois that span 500–1,200 mm rainfall/year. We aimed to answer: (a) What is the relative role of genetic constraints and phenotypic plasticity in controlling phenotypes? (b) When planted in the homesite, is there a trait syndrome for each ecotype? (c) How are genotypes and phenotypes structured by climate? and (d) What are implications of these results for response to climate change and use of ecotypes for restoration? Surprisingly, we did not detect consistent local adaptation. Rather, we detected co?gradient variation primarily for most vegetative responses. All ecotypes were stunted in western KS. Eastward, the wet ecotype was increasingly robust relative to other ecotypes. In contrast, fitness showed evidence for local adaptation in wet and dry ecotypes with wet and mesic ecotypes producing little seed in western KS. Earlier flowering time in the dry ecotype suggests adaptation to end of season drought. Considering ecotype traits in homesite, the dry ecotype was characterized by reduced canopy area and diameter, short plants, and low vegetative biomass and putatively adapted to water limitation. The wet ecotype was robust, tall with high biomass, and wide leaves putatively adapted for the highly competitive, light?limited Eastern Great Plains. Ecotype differentiation was supported by random forest classification and PCA. We detected genetic differentiation and outlier genes associated with primarily precipitation. We identified candidate gene GA1 for which allele frequency associated with plant height. Sourcing of climate adapted ecotypes should be considered for restoration.
Project description:Ecology can play a major role in species diversification. As individuals are adapting to contrasting habitats, reproductive barriers may evolve at multiple levels. While pre-mating barriers have been extensively studied, the evolution of post-mating reproductive isolation during early stages of ecological speciation remains poorly understood. In diverging three-spined stickleback ecotypes from two lakes and two rivers, we observed differences in sperm traits between lake and river males. Interestingly, these differences did not translate into ecotype-specific gamete precedence for sympatric males in competitive in vitro fertilization experiments, potentially owing to antagonistic compensatory effects. However, we observed indirect evidence for impeded development of inter-ecotype zygotes, possibly suggesting an early stage of genetic incompatibility between ecotypes. Our results show that pre-zygotic post-copulatory mechanisms play a minor role during this first stage of ecotype divergence, but suggest that genetic incompatibilities may arise at early stages of ecological speciation.
Project description:The evolution of locally adapted ecotypes is a common phenomenon that generates diversity within plant species. However, we know surprisingly little about the genetic mechanisms underlying the locally adapted traits involved in ecotype formation. The genetic architecture underlying locally adapted traits dictates how an organism will respond to environmental selection pressures, and has major implications for evolutionary ecology, conservation, and crop breeding. To understand the genetic architecture underlying the divergence of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) ecotypes, we constructed a genetic mapping population through a four-way outbred cross between two northern upland and two southern lowland accessions. Trait segregation in this mapping population was largely consistent with multiple independent loci controlling the suite of traits that characterizes ecotype divergence. We assembled a joint linkage map using ddRADseq, and mapped quantitative trait loci (QTL) for traits that are divergent between ecotypes, including flowering time, plant size, physiological processes, and disease resistance. Overall, we found that most QTL had small to intermediate effects. While we identified colocalizing QTL for multiple traits, we did not find any large-effect QTL that clearly controlled multiple traits through pleiotropy or tight physical linkage. These results indicate that ecologically important traits in switchgrass have a complex genetic basis, and that similar loci may underlie divergence across the geographic range of the ecotypes.
Project description:Climatic adaptation is an example of a genotype-by-environment interaction (G×E) of fitness. Selection upon gene expression regulatory variation can contribute to adaptive phenotypic diversity; however, surprisingly few studies have examined how genome-wide patterns of gene expression G×E are manifested in response to environmental stress and other selective agents that cause climatic adaptation. Here, we characterize drought-responsive expression divergence between upland (drought-adapted) and lowland (mesic) ecotypes of the perennial C4 grass,Panicum hallii, in natural field conditions. Overall, we find that cis-regulatory elements contributed to gene expression divergence across 47% of genes, 7.2% of which exhibit drought-responsive G×E. While less well-represented, we observe 1294 genes (7.8%) with transeffects.Trans-by-environment interactions are weaker and much less common than cis G×E, occurring in only 0.7% oft rans-regulated genes. Finally, gene expression heterosis is highly enriched in expression phenotypes with significant G×E. As such, modes of inheritance that drive heterosis, such as dominance or overdominance, may be common among G×E genes. Interestingly, motifs specific to drought-responsive transcription factors are highly enriched in the promoters of genes exhibiting G×E and transregulation, indicating that expression G×E and heterosis may result from the evolution of transcription factors or their binding sites.P. hallii serves as the genomic model for its close relative and emerging biofuel crop, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Accordingly, the results here not only aid in the discovery of the genetic mechanisms that underlie local adaptation but also provide a foundation to improve switchgrass yield under water-limited conditions.
Project description:Chromosomal rearrangements such as inversions can play a crucial role in maintaining polymorphism underlying complex traits and contribute to the process of speciation. In Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), inversions of several megabases have been identified that dominate genomic differentiation between migratory and nonmigratory ecotypes in the Northeast Atlantic. Here, we show that the same genomic regions display elevated divergence and contribute to ecotype divergence in the Northwest Atlantic as well. The occurrence of these inversions on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean reveals a common evolutionary origin, predating the >100?000-year-old trans-Atlantic separation of Atlantic cod. The long-term persistence of these inversions indicates that they are maintained by selection, possibly facilitated by coevolution of genes underlying complex traits. Our data suggest that migratory behaviour is derived from more stationary, ancestral ecotypes. Overall, we identify several large genomic regions-each containing hundreds of genes-likely involved in the maintenance of genomic divergence in Atlantic cod on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Understanding how and why genetic variation is partitioned across geographic space is of fundamental importance to understanding the nature of biological species. How geographical isolation and local adaptation contribute to the formation of ecotypically differentiated groups of plants is just beginning to be understood through population genomic studies. We used whole genome sequencing combined with association study of climate to discover the drivers of differentiation in the perennial C4 grass Panicum hallii. RESULTS:Sequencing of 89 natural accessions of P.hallii revealed complex population structure across the species range. Major population genomic separation was found between subspecies P.hallii var. hallii and var. filipes as well as between at least four major unrecognized subgroups within var. hallii. At least 139 genomic SNPs were significantly associated with temperature or precipitation across the range and these SNPs were enriched for non-synonymous substitutions. SNPs associated with temperature and aridity were more often found in or near genes than expected by chance and enriched for putative involvement in dormancy processes, seed maturation, response to hyperosmosis and salinity, abscisic acid metabolism, hormone metabolism, and drought recovery. CONCLUSIONS:Both geography and climate adaptation contribute significantly to patterns of genome-wide variation in P.hallii. Population subgroups within P.hallii may represent early stages in the formation of ecotypes. Climate associated loci identified here represent promising targets for future research in this and other perennial grasses.