Published: Genomic islands of differentiation in a ring species

Published September 8th in Molecular Ecology:

Irwin, D.E., M. Alcaide, K.E. Delmore, J.H. Irwin, and G.L. Owens. 2016. Recurrent selection explains parallel evolution of genomic regions of high relative but low absolute differentiation in a ring species. Molecular Ecology, online Early View: doi:10.1111/mec.13792 Link

The Abstract: Recent technological developments allow investigation of the repeatability of evolution at the genomic level. Such investigation is particularly powerful when applied to a ring species, in which spatial variation represents changes during the evolution of two species from one. We examined genomic variation among three subspecies of the greenish warbler ring species, using genotypes at 13 013 950 nucleotide sites along a new greenish warbler consensus genome assembly. Genomic regions of low within-group variation are remarkably consistent between the three populations. These regions show high relative differentiation but low absolute differentiation between populations. Comparisons with outgroup species show the locations of these peaks of relative differentiation are not well explained by phylogenetically conserved variation in recombination rates or selection. These patterns are consistent with a model in which selection in an ancestral form has reduced variation at some parts of the genome, and those same regions experience recurrent selection that subsequently reduces variation within each subspecies. The degree of heterogeneity in nucleotide diversity is greater than explained by models of background selection, but is consistent with selective sweeps. Given the evidence that greenish warblers have had both population differentiation for a long period of time and periods of gene flow between those populations, we propose that some genomic regions underwent selective sweeps over a broad geographic area followed by within-population selection-induced reductions in variation. An important implication of this ‘sweep-before-differentiation’ model is that genomic regions of high relative differentiation may have moved among populations more recently than other genomic regions.