Genomics of natural populations: Evolutionary forces that establish and maintain gene arrangements in Drosophila pseudoobscura

Zachary L. Fuller, Gwilym D. Haynes, Stephen Richards, Stephen W. Schaeffer

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The evolution of complex traits in heterogeneous environments may shape the order of genes within chromosomes. Drosophila pseudoobscura has a rich gene arrangement polymorphism that allows one to test evolutionary genetic hypotheses about how chromosomal inversions are established in populations. D. pseudoobscura has >30 gene arrangements on a single chromosome that were generated through a series of overlapping inversion mutations with >10 inversions with appreciable frequencies and wide geographic distributions. This study analyses the genomic sequences of 54 strains of Drosophila pseudoobscura that carry one of six different chromosomal arrangements to test whether (i) genetic drift, (ii) hitchhiking with an adaptive allele, (iii) direct effects of inversions to create gene disruptions caused by breakpoints, or (iv) indirect effects of inversions in limiting the formation of recombinant gametes are responsible for the establishment of new gene arrangements. We found that the inversion events do not disrupt the structure of protein coding genes at the breakpoints. Population genetic analyses of 2,669 protein coding genes identified 277 outlier loci harbouring elevated frequencies of arrangement-specific derived alleles. Significant linkage disequilibrium occurs among distant loci interspersed between regions with low levels of association indicating that distant allelic combinations are held together despite shared polymorphism among arrangements. Outlier genes showing evidence of genetic differentiation between arrangements are enriched for sensory perception and detoxification genes. The data presented here support the indirect effect of inversion hypothesis where chromosomal inversions are favoured because they maintain linked associations among multilocus allelic combinations among different arrangements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6539-6562
Number of pages24
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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