Genetic signatures of natural selection in a model invasive ascidian

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Journal article

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Scientific Reports

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Nature Publishing Group


Invasive species represent promising models to study species' responses to rapidly changing environments. Although local adaptation frequently occurs during contemporary range expansion, the associated genetic signatures at both population and genomic levels remain largely unknown. Here, we use genome-wide gene-associated microsatellites to investigate genetic signatures of natural selection in a model invasive ascidian, Ciona robusta. Population genetic analyses of 150 individuals sampled in Korea, New Zealand, South Africa and Spain showed significant genetic differentiation among populations. Based on outlier tests, we found high incidence of signatures of directional selection at 19 loci. Hitchhiking mapping analyses identified 12 directional selective sweep regions, and all selective sweep windows on chromosomes were narrow (∼8.9 kb). Further analyses indentified 132 candidate genes under selection. When we compared our genetic data and six crucial environmental variables, 16 putatively selected loci showed significant correlation with these environmental variables. This suggests that the local environmental conditions have left significant signatures of selection at both population and genomic levels. Finally, we identified "plastic" genomic regions and genes that are promising regions to investigate evolutionary responses to rapid environmental change in C. robusta.





Funding Information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31272665; 31622011) and 100-Talent Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to A.Z. {31272665, 31622011}

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2017. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

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Recommended Citation

Lin, Y., Chen, Y., Yi, C., Fong, J. J., Kim, W., Rius, M., & Zhan, A. (2017). Genetic signatures of natural selection in a model invasive ascidian. Scientific Reports, 7, art. no. 44080. doi: 10.1038/srep44080