Do the same genes underlie parallel phenotypic divergence in different Littorina saxatilis populations?

Westram AM, Galindo J, Alm Rosenblad M, Grahame JW, Panova M, Butlin RK

Mol. Ecol. 23 (18) 4603-4616 [2014-09-00; online 2014-08-13]

Parallel patterns of adaptive divergence and speciation are cited as powerful evidence for the role of selection driving these processes. However, it is often not clear whether parallel phenotypic divergence is underlain by parallel genetic changes. Here, we asked about the genetic basis of parallel divergence in the marine snail Littorina saxatilis, which has repeatedly evolved coexisting ecotypes adapted to either crab predation or wave action. We sequenced the transcriptome of snails of both ecotypes from three distant geographical locations (Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom) and mapped the reads to the L. saxatilis reference genome. We identified genomic regions potentially under divergent selection between ecotypes within each country, using an outlier approach based on F(ST) values calculated per locus. In line with previous studies indicating that gene reuse is generally common, we expected to find extensive sharing of outlier loci due to recent shared ancestry and gene flow between at least two of the locations in our study system. Contrary to our expectations, we found that most outliers were country specific, suggesting that much of the genetic basis of divergence is not shared among locations. However, we did find that more outliers were shared than expected by chance and that differentiation of shared outliers is often generated by the same SNPs. We discuss two mechanisms potentially explaining the limited amount of sharing we observed. First, a polygenic basis of divergent traits might allow for multiple distinct molecular mechanisms generating the same phenotypic patterns. Second, additional, location-specific axes of selection that we did not focus on in this study may produce distinct patterns of genetic divergence within each site.

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PubMed 25113130

DOI 10.1111/mec.12883

Crossref 10.1111/mec.12883

Dryad 21PF0

pmc PMC4285301