Project description:Heterochiasmy, a sex-based difference in recombination rate, has been detected in many species of animals and plants. Several hypotheses about evolutionary causes of heterochiasmy were proposed. However, there is a shortage of empirical data. In this paper, we compared recombination related traits in females and males of the barn swallow Hirundo rustica (Linnaeus, 1758), the species under strong sexual selection, with those in the pale martin Riparia diluta (Sharpe and Wyatt, 1893), a related and ecologically similar species with the same karyotype (2N = 78), but without obvious sexual dimorphism. Recombination traits were examined in pachytene chromosome spreads prepared from spermatocytes and oocytes. Synaptonemal complexes and mature recombination nodules were visualized with antibodies to SYCP3 and MLH1 proteins, correspondingly. Recombination rate was significantly higher (p = 0.0001) in barn swallow females (55.6 ± 6.3 recombination nodules per autosomal genome), caused by the higher number of nodules at the macrochromosomes, than in males (49.0 ± 4.5). They also showed more even distribution of recombination nodules along the macrochromosomes. At the same time, in the pale martin, sexual differences in recombination rate and distributions were rather small. We speculate that an elevated recombination rate in the female barn swallows might have evolved as a compensatory reaction to runaway sexual selection in males.
Project description:Background:The barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) is a migratory bird that has been the focus of a large number of ecological, behavioral, and genetic studies. To facilitate further population genetics and genomic studies, we present a reference genome assembly for the European subspecies (H. r. rustica). Findings:As part of the Genome10K effort on generating high-quality vertebrate genomes (Vertebrate Genomes Project), we have assembled a highly contiguous genome assembly using single molecule real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing and several Bionano optical map technologies. We compared and integrated optical maps derived from both the Nick, Label, Repair, and Stain technology and from the Direct Label and Stain (DLS) technology. As proposed by Bionano, DLS more than doubled the scaffold N50 with respect to the nickase. The dual enzyme hybrid scaffold led to a further marginal increase in scaffold N50 and an overall increase of confidence in the scaffolds. After removal of haplotigs, the final assembly is approximately 1.21 Gbp in size, with a scaffold N50 value of more than 25.95 Mbp. Conclusions:This high-quality genome assembly represents a valuable resource for future studies of population genetics and genomics in the barn swallow and for studies concerning the evolution of avian genomes. It also represents one of the very first genomes assembled by combining SMRT long-read sequencing with the new Bionano DLS technology for scaffolding. The quality of this assembly demonstrates the potential of this methodology to substantially increase the contiguity of genome assemblies.
Project description:Circannual rhythms often rely on endogenous seasonal photoperiodic timers involving 'clock' genes, and Clock gene polymorphism has been associated to variation in phenology in some bird species. In the long-distance migratory barn swallow Hirundo rustica, individuals bearing the rare Clock allele with the largest number of C-terminal polyglutamine repeats found in this species (Q8) show a delayed reproduction and moult later. We explored the association between Clock polymorphism and migration scheduling, as gauged by light-level geolocators, in two barn swallow populations (Switzerland; Po Plain, Italy). Genetic polymorphism was low: 91% of the 64 individuals tracked year-round were Q7/Q7 homozygotes. We compared the phenology of the rare genotypes with the phenotypic distribution of Q7/Q7 homozygotes within each population. In Switzerland, compared to Q7/Q7, two Q6/Q7 males departed earlier from the wintering grounds and arrived earlier to their colony in spring, while a single Q7/Q8 female was delayed for both phenophases. On the other hand, in the Po Plain, three Q6/Q7 individuals had a similar phenology compared to Q7/Q7. The Swiss data are suggestive for a role of genetic polymorphism at a candidate phenological gene in shaping migration traits, and support the idea that Clock polymorphism underlies phenological variation in birds.
Project description:<i>Hirundo</i> is the most species-rich genus of the passerine swallow family (Hirundinidae) and has a cosmopolitan distribution. Here we report the complete, annotated mitochondrial genomes for 25 individuals from 10 of the 14 extant <i>Hirundo</i> species; these include representatives from four subspecies of the barn swallow, <i>H. rustica</i>. Mitogenomes were conserved in size, ranging from 18,500 to 18,700 base pairs. They all contained 13 protein-coding regions, 22 tRNAs, a control region, and large and small ribosomal subunits. Phylogenetic analysis resolved most of the relationships between the studied species and subspecies which were largely consistent with previously published trees. Several new relationships were observed within the phylogeny that could have only been discovered with the increased amount of genetic material. This study represents the largest <i>Hirundo</i> mitochondrial phylogeny to date, and could serve as a vital tool for other studies focusing on the evolution of the <i>Hirundo</i> genus.
Project description:Recent studies of several species have reported a latitudinal cline in the circadian clock gene, Clock, which influences rhythms in both physiology and behavior. Latitudinal variation in this gene may hence reflect local adaptation to seasonal variation. In some bird populations, there is also an among-individual association between Clock poly-Q genotype and clutch initiation date and incubation period. We examined Clock poly-Q allele variation in the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), a species with a cosmopolitan geographic distribution and considerable variation in life-history traits that may be influenced by the circadian clock. We genotyped Barn Swallows from five populations (from three subspecies) and compared variation at the Clock locus to that at microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). We found very low variation in the Clock poly-Q region, as >96% of individuals were homozygous, and the two other alleles at this locus were globally rare. Genetic differentiation based on the Clock poly-Q locus was not correlated with genetic differentiation based on either microsatellite loci or mtDNA sequences. Our results show that high diversity in Clock poly-Q is not general across avian species. The low Clock variation in the background of heterogeneity in microsatellite and mtDNA loci in Barn Swallows may be an outcome of stabilizing selection on the Clock locus.
Project description:A classic example of a sexually selected trait, the deep fork tail of the barn swallow Hirundo rustica is now claimed to have evolved and be maintained mainly via aerodynamic advantage rather than sexually selected advantage. However, this aerodynamic advantage hypothesis does not clarify which flight habits select for/against deep fork tails, causing diversity of tail fork depth in hirundines. Here, by focusing on the genus Hirundo, we investigated whether the large variation in tail fork depth could be explained by the differential flight habits. Using a phylogenetic comparative approach, we found that migrant species had deeper fork tails, but less colorful plumage, than the other species, indicating that migration favors a specific trait, deep fork tails. At the same time, tail fork depth but not plumage coloration decreased with increasing bill size - a proxy of prey size, suggesting that foraging on larger prey items favors shallower fork tails. Variation of tail fork depth in the genus Hirundo may be explained by differential flight habits, even without assuming sexual selection.
Project description:Populations of most North American aerial insectivores have undergone steep population declines over the past 40 years but the relative importance of factors operating on breeding, wintering, or stopover sites remains unknown. We used archival light-level geolocators to track the phenology, movements and winter locations of barn swallows (Hirdundo rustica; n = 27) from populations across North America to determine their migratory connectivity. We identified an east-west continental migratory divide for barn swallows with birds from western regions (Washington State, USA (n = 8) and Saskatchewan, Canada (n = 5)) traveling shorter distances to wintering areas ranging from Oregon to northern Colombia than eastern populations (Ontario (n = 3) and New Brunswick (n = 10), Canada) which wintered in South America south of the Amazon basin. A single swallow from a stable population in Alabama shared a similar migration route to eastern barn swallows but wintered farther north in northeast Brazil indicating a potential leap frog pattern migratory among eastern birds. Six of 9 (67%) birds from the two eastern populations and Alabama underwent a loop migration west of fall migration routes including around the Gulf of Mexico travelling a mean of 2,224 km and 722 km longer on spring migration, respectively. Longer migration distances, including the requirement to cross the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico and subsequent shorter sedentary wintering periods, may exacerbate declines for populations breeding in northeastern North America.