Phenotypic and genome-wide association with the local environment of Arabidopsis

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The environment imposes critical selective forces on all living organisms, and the sessile nature of plants makes them particularly useful for investigating the relationship between genetic variation and environmental adaptation. In the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, extensive information on phenotypic and genotypic variation is available, but comparable information on environmental variation within the native range of the species is lacking. Here, we compile 204 geoclimatic variables to describe the local environments of Arabidopsis accessions with known collection sites encompassing a wide geo-environmental range, and fully sequenced genomes from the 1001 Genomes Project. We identify candidate adaptive genetic variation associated with these environmental variables, and validate this approach through comparison with previous experimental studies, and by targeted confirmation of a role of the heterotrimeric G-protein γ subunit, AGG3, in cold tolerance, as newly predicted from our environmental genome wide association study (GWAS). To facilitate identification of adaptive variation, we created Arabidopsis CLIMtools: interactive web-based databases of the environment × genome associations and correlations between the local environments and 131 phenotypes compiled from previous experimental GWASs. Our study presents an extensive analysis of the local environments, landscape genomics and phenotypic variation of Arabidopsis, and illustrates how ‘in silico GWAS’ approaches can inform and complement experimental phenomics studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-285
Number of pages12
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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