The genomic signature of parallel adaptation from shared genetic variation

Mol Ecol. 2014 Aug;23(16):3944-56. doi: 10.1111/mec.12720. Epub 2014 Apr 5.


Parallel adaptation is common and may often occur from shared genetic variation, but the genomic consequences of this process remain poorly understood. We first use individual-based simulations to demonstrate that comparisons between populations adapted in parallel to similar environments from shared variation reveal a characteristic genomic signature around a selected locus: a low-divergence valley centred at the locus and flanked by twin peaks of high divergence. This signature is initiated by the hitchhiking of haplotype tracts differing between derived populations in the broader neighbourhood of the selected locus (driving the high-divergence twin peaks) and shared haplotype tracts in the tight neighbourhood of the locus (driving the low-divergence valley). This initial hitchhiking signature is reinforced over time because the selected locus acts as a barrier to gene flow from the source to the derived populations, thus promoting divergence by drift in its close neighbourhood. We next empirically confirm the peak-valley-peak signature by combining targeted and RAD sequence data at three candidate adaptation genes in multiple marine (source) and freshwater (derived) populations of threespine stickleback. Finally, we use a genome-wide screen for the peak-valley-peak signature to discover additional genome regions involved in parallel marine-freshwater divergence. Our findings offer a new explanation for heterogeneous genomic divergence and thus challenge the standard view that peaks in population divergence harbour divergently selected loci and that low-divergence regions result from balancing selection or localized introgression. We anticipate that genome scans for peak-valley-peak divergence signatures will promote the discovery of adaptation genes in other organisms.

Keywords: Gasterosteus aculeatus; barrier to gene flow; evolutionary genomics; genetic hitchhiking; genome scan; population divergence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Gene Flow
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Haplotypes
  • Models, Genetic
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Smegmamorpha / genetics*