Clones on the run: The genomics of a recently expanded partially clonal species.

Pereyra RT, Rafajlović M, De Wit P, Pinder M, Kinnby A, Töpel M, Johannesson K

Mol. Ecol. 32 (15) 4209-4223 [2023-08-00; online 2023-05-18]

Why species that in their core areas mainly reproduce sexually become enriched with clones in marginal populations ("geographic parthenogenesis") remains unclear. Earlier hypotheses have emphasized that selection might promote clonality because it protects locally adapted genotypes. On the other hand, it also hampers recombination and adaptation to changing conditions. The aim of the present study was to investigate the early stages of range expansion in a partially clonal species and what drives an increase in cloning during such expansion. We used genome-wide sequencing to investigate the origin and evolution of large clones formed in a macroalgal species (Fucus vesiculosus) during a recent expansion into the postglacial Baltic Sea. We found low but persistent clonality in core populations, while at range margins, large dominant clonal lineages had evolved repeatedly from different sexual populations. A range expansion model showed that even when asexual recruitment is less favourable than sexual recruitment in core populations, repeated bottlenecks at the expansion front can establish a genetically eroded clonal wave that spreads ahead of a sexual wave into the new area. Genetic variation decreases by drift following repeated bottlenecks at the expansion front. This results in the emerging clones having low expected heterozygosity, which corroborated our empirical observations. We conclude that Baker's Law (clones being favoured by uniparental reproductive assurance in new areas) can play an important role during range expansion in partially clonal species, resulting in a complex spatiotemporal mosaic of clonal and sexual lineages that might persist during thousands of generations.

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PubMed 37199478

DOI 10.1111/mec.16996

Crossref 10.1111/mec.16996

Publications 9.5.0