The role of climate adaptation in colonization success in Arabidopsis thaliana

Jill A. Hamilton, Miki Okada, Tonia Korves, Johanna Schmitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Understanding the genetic mechanisms that contribute to range expansion and colonization success within novel environments is important for both invasion biology and predicting species-level responses to changing environments. If populations are adapted to local climates across a species' native range, then climate matching may predict which genotypes will successfully establish in novel environments. We examine evidence for climate adaptation and its role in colonization of novel environments in the model species, Arabidopsis thaliana. We review phenotypic and genomic evidence for climate adaptation within the native range and describe new analyses of fitness data from European accessions introduced to Rhode Island, USA, in spring and fall plantings. Accessions from climates similar to the Rhode Island site had higher fitness indicating a potential role for climate pre-adaptation in colonization success. A genomewide association study (GWAS), and genotypic mean correlations of fitness across plantings suggest the genetic basis of fitness in Rhode Island differs between spring and autumn cohorts, and from previous fitness measurements in European field sites. In general, these observations suggest a scenario of conditional neutrality for loci contributing to colonization success, although there was evidence of a fitness trade-off between fall plantings in Norwich, UK, and Rhode Island. GWAS suggested that antagonistic pleiotropy at a few specific loci may contribute to this trade-off, but this conclusion depended upon the accessions included in the analysis. Increased genomic information and phenotypic information make A. thaliana a model system to test for the genetic basis of colonization success in novel environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2253-2263
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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