Inversions maintain differences between migratory phenotypes of a songbird

Nat Commun. 2023 Jan 27;14(1):452. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-36167-y.


Structural rearrangements have been shown to be important in local adaptation and speciation, but have been difficult to reliably identify and characterize in non-model species. Here we combine long reads, linked reads and optical mapping to characterize three divergent chromosome regions in the willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus, of which two are associated with differences in migration and one with an environmental gradient. We show that there are inversions (0.4-13 Mb) in each of the regions and that the divergence times between inverted and non-inverted haplotypes are similar across the regions (~1.2 Myrs), which is compatible with a scenario where inversions arose in either of two allopatric populations that subsequently hybridized. The improved genomes allow us to detect additional functional differences in the divergent regions, providing candidate genes for migration and adaptations to environmental gradients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes
  • Genome
  • Passeriformes* / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Songbirds* / genetics