The population genetics of most range expansions is thought to be shaped by the competition between Darwinian selection and random genetic drift at the range margins. Here, we show that the evolutionary dynamics during range expansions is highly sensitive to additional fluctuations induced by environmental heterogeneities. Tracking mutant clones with a tunable fitness effect in bacterial colonies grown on randomly patterned surfaces we found that environmental heterogeneity can dramatically reduce the efficacy of selection. Time-lapse microscopy and computer simulations suggest that this effect arises generically from a local 'pinning' of the expansion front, whereby stretches of the front are slowed down on a length scale that depends on the structure of the environmental heterogeneity. This pinning focuses the range expansion into a small number of 'lucky' individuals with access to expansion paths, altering the neutral evolutionary dynamics and increasing the importance of chance relative to selection.
- Oskar Hallatschek
- Oskar Hallatschek
- Oskar Hallatschek
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Richard A Neher, University of Basel, Switzerland
© 2019, Gralka & Hallatschek
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Transposable elements (TEs) are mobile genetic elements that can profoundly impact the evolution of genomes and species. A long-standing hypothesis suggests that hybridization could deregulate TEs and trigger their accumulation, although it received mixed support from studies mostly in plants and animals. Here, we tested this hypothesis in fungi using incipient species of the undomesticated yeast Saccharomyces paradoxus. Population genomic data revealed no signature of higher transposition in natural hybrids. As we could not rule out the elimination of past transposition increase signatures by natural selection, we performed a laboratory evolution experiment on a panel of artificial hybrids to measure TE accumulation in the near absence of selection. Changes in TE copy numbers were not predicted by the level of evolutionary divergence between the parents of a hybrid genotype. Rather, they were highly dependent on the individual hybrid genotypes, showing that strong genotype-specific deterministic factors govern TE accumulation in yeast hybrids.
The tomato russet mite, Aculops lycopersici, is among the smallest animals on earth. It is a worldwide pest on tomato and can potently suppress the host's natural resistance. We sequenced its genome, the first of an eriophyoid, and explored whether there are genomic features associated with the mite's minute size and lifestyle. At only 32.5 Mb, the genome is the smallest yet reported for any arthropod and, reminiscent of microbial eukaryotes, exceptionally streamlined. It has few transposable elements, tiny intergenic regions, and is remarkably intron-poor, as more than 80% of coding genes are intronless. Furthermore, in accordance with ecological specialization theory, this defense-suppressing herbivore has extremely reduced environmental response gene families such as those involved in chemoreception and detoxification. Other losses associate with this species' highly derived body plan. Our findings accelerate the understanding of evolutionary forces underpinning metazoan life at the limits of small physical and genome size.