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Association mapping of colour variation in a butterfly provides evidence that a supergene locks together a cluster of adaptive loci

Abstract : Supergenes are genetic architectures associated with discrete and concerted variation in multiple traits. It has long been suggested that supergenes control these complex polymorphisms by suppressing recombination between sets of coadapted genes. However, because recombination suppression hinders the dissociation of the individual effects of genes within supergenes, there is still little evidence that supergenes evolve by tightening linkage between coadapted genes. Here, combining a landmark-free phenotyping algorithm with multivariate genome-wide association studies, we dissected the genetic basis of wing pattern variation in the butterfly Heliconius numata . We show that the supergene controlling the striking wing pattern polymorphism displayed by this species contains several independent loci associated with different features of wing patterns. The three chromosomal inversions of this supergene suppress recombination between these loci, supporting the hypothesis that they may have evolved because they captured beneficial combinations of alleles. Some of these loci are, however, associated with colour variations only in a subset of morphs where the phenotype is controlled by derived inversion forms, indicating that they were recruited after the formation of the inversions. Our study shows that supergenes and clusters of adaptive loci in general may form via the evolution of chromosomal rearrangements suppressing recombination between co-adapted loci but also via the subsequent recruitment of linked adaptive mutations. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Genomic architecture of supergenes: causes and evolutionary consequences’.
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Contributor : Mathieu Joron Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, September 23, 2022 - 11:16:25 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 12, 2022 - 4:00:17 AM


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Paul Jay, Manon Leroy, Yann Le Poul, Annabel Whibley, Mónica Arias, et al.. Association mapping of colour variation in a butterfly provides evidence that a supergene locks together a cluster of adaptive loci. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2022, 377 (1856), ⟨10.1098/rstb.2021.0193⟩. ⟨hal-03784618⟩



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