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Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus) transcriptome reveals interplay between speciation genes and adaptive introgression.

Molecular Ecology 2024 March 16
Genomes are heterogeneous during the early stages of speciation, with small 'islands' of DNA appearing to reflect strong adaptive differences, surrounded by vast seas of relative homogeneity. As species diverge, secondary contact zones between them can act as an interface and selectively filter through advantageous alleles of hybrid origin. Such introgression is another important adaptive process, one that allows beneficial mosaics of recombinant DNA ('rivers') to flow from one species into another. Although genomic islands of divergence appear to be associated with reproductive isolation, and genomic rivers form by adaptive introgression, it is unknown whether islands and rivers tend to be the same or different loci. We examined three replicate secondary contact zones for the Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus) using two genomic data sets and a morphometric data set to answer the questions: (1) How predictably different are islands and rivers, both in terms of genomic location and gene function? (2) Are the adaptive genetic trait loci underlying tadpole growth and development reliably islands, rivers or neither? We found that island and river loci have significant overlap within a contact zone, suggesting that some loci are first islands, and later are predictably converted into rivers. However, gene ontology enrichment analysis showed strong overlap in gene function unique to all island loci, suggesting predictability in overall gene pathways for islands. Genome-wide association study outliers for tadpole development included LPIN3, a lipid metabolism gene potentially involved in climate change adaptation, that is island-like for all three contact zones, but also appears to be introgressing (as a river) across one zone. Taken together, our results suggest that adaptive divergence and introgression may be more complementary forces than currently appreciated.

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