Publication in Nature Ecology & Evolution by Dr. CHEN Jun's Laboratory, Institute of Ecology

Title: Genome-wide analyses of introgression between two sympatric Asian oak species 

Ruirui Fu, Yuxiang Zhu, Ying Liu, Yu Feng, Rui-Sen Lu, Yao Li, Pan Li, Antoine Kremer, Martin Lascoux & Jun Chen


Introgression can be an important source of new alleles for adaption under rapidly changing environments, perhaps even more important than standing variation. Though introgression has been extensively studied in many plants and animals, key questions on the underlying mechanisms of introgression still remain unanswered. In particular, we are yet to determine the genomic distribution of introgressed regions along the genome; whether the extent and patterns of introgression are influenced by ecological factors; and when and how introgression contributes to adaptation. Here, we generated high-quality genomic resources for two sympatric widespread Asian oak species, Quercus acutissima and Q. variabilis, sampled in multiple forests to study introgression between them. We show that introgressed regions are broadly distributed across the genome. Introgression was affected by genetic divergence between pairs of populations and by the similarity of the environments in which they live—populations occupying similar ecological sites tended to share the same introgressed regions. Introgressed genomic footprints of adaptation were preferentially located in regions with suppressed recombination rate. Introgression probably confers adaptation in these oak populations by introducing allelic variation in cis-regulatory elements, in particular through transposable element insertions, thereby altering the regulation of genes related to stress. Our results provide new avenues of research for uncovering mechanisms of adaptation due to hybridization in sympatric species.


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