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Genome-wide introgression between two sympatric Asian oak species

Genome-wide introgression between two sympatric Asian oak species

Mixed oak forest in Houhe Nature Reserve, Hubei Province (left); A PhD student collecting samples from an ancient oak tree (right) in the Guanshan Nature Reserve, Jiangxi Province (right). Credit: University of Zhejiang

The genus Quercus, commonly known as oaks, is one of the most evolutionarily successful genera in the Northern Hemisphere in terms of species diversity, biomass, and range. Oaks can usually live for several hundred years, and during their longevity they show a high tolerance to various abiotic and biotic threats. Meanwhile, oaks are also known for their extensive interspecific gene flow, which are believed to be useful for their wide distribution. These properties make Quercus an ideal genus for studying adaptive introgression.

Recently, the research team led by Prof. Chen Jun of Zhejiang University College of Life Sciences published an article titled “Genome-wide analysis of introgression between two sympatric Asian oak species” in Nature Ecology & Evolution† Their research focused on two sympatric Asian oak species with a wide distribution range – Quercus acutissima and Q. variabili – to explore how introgression can aid rapid adaptation to different environmental conditions.

In this study, Ph.D. students collected samples in 15 provinces of China and generated a chromosomal-level genome assembly of high-quality population genomic re-sequences and transcriptome data to examine the correlation between introgression patterns, the recombination rate, genetic variations of local adaptation, and gene regulation.

Genome-wide introgression between two sympatric Asian oak species

The correlation between the distributions of genomic introgression, environment-related variations and recombination rates. Credit: University of Zhejiang

Introgressive regions in the genome were found to be mainly determined by genetic divergence and environmental conditions. The more similar their environments are, the more likely the two oak species in the same genomic regions would exchange. Adaptive introgressive mutations were maintained by natural selection in four long chromosomal pathways due to suppressed recombination rate, which may be due to chromosome inversions caused by the insertion of transposable elements. Most adaptive introgressive mutations were located in cis-regulatory elements formed by TE insertions and altered gene expression level in response to environmental stimulus. In summary, similar environmental conditions led to similar genetic exchange and to similar expression profiles between oaks.

This study provides a new insight into the genetic mechanisms of introgression and environmental adaptation in sympatric species.

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More information:
Ruirui Fu et al, Genome-wide analyzes of introgression between two sympatric Asian oak species, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-022-01754-7

Provided by Zhejiang University

Quote: Genome-wide introgression between two sympatric Asian oak species (2022, June 14) retrieved June 14, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-genome-wide-introgression-sympatric-asian-oak.html

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