Genomic Basis of Adaptive Evolution: The Survival of Amur Ide (Leuciscus waleckii) in an Extremely Alkaline Environment

Mol Biol Evol. 2017 Jan;34(1):145-159. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msw230. Epub 2016 Oct 20.


The Amur ide (Leuciscus waleckii) is a cyprinid fish that is widely distributed in Northeast Asia. The Lake Dali Nur population inhabits one of the most extreme aquatic environments on Earth, with an alkalinity up to 50 mmol/L (pH 9.6), thus providing an exceptional model with which to characterize the mechanisms of genomic evolution underlying adaptation to extreme environments. Here, we developed the reference genome assembly for L. waleckii from Lake Dali Nur. Intriguingly, we identified unusual expanded long terminal repeats (LTRs) with higher nucleotide substitution rates than in many other teleosts, suggesting their more recent insertion into the L. waleckii genome. We also identified expansions in genes encoding egg coat proteins and natriuretic peptide receptors, possibly underlying the adaptation to extreme environmental stress. We further sequenced the genomes of 10 additional individuals from freshwater and 18 from Lake Dali Nur populations, and we detected a total of 7.6 million SNPs from both populations. In a genome scan and comparison of these two populations, we identified a set of genomic regions under selective sweeps that harbor genes involved in ion homoeostasis, acid-base regulation, unfolded protein response, reactive oxygen species elimination, and urea excretion. Our findings provide comprehensive insight into the genomic mechanisms of teleost fish that underlie their adaptation to extreme alkaline environments.

Keywords: Leuciscus waleckii; acid–base regulation; adaptation; alkaline; genome; urea excretion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Asia
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cyprinidae / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Extreme Environments
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genomics / methods
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lakes
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics
  • Transcriptome