Speciation genetics of recently diverged species
- Location: Lindahlsalen, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Norbyvagan 18, Uppsala
- Doctoral student: Talla, Venkat
- About the dissertation
- Organiser: Evolutionsbiologi
- Contact person: Talla, Venkat
Species differentiation can be a consequence of evolutionary forces including natural selection and random genetic drift. Patterns of genomic differentiation vary across the tree of life. This variation seems to be dependent on, for example, differences in genomic architecture and molecular mechanisms.
However, the knowledge we currently possess, both regarding the processes driving speciation and the resulting genomic signatures, is from a very small subset of the overall biodiversity that resides on the planet. Therefore, characterization of the architecture of genomic divergence from more organism groups will be important to understand the effects of molecular mechanisms and evolutionary forces driving divergence between lineages. Hence it has not been possible to come to a consensus on the relative importance of genetic drift and natural selection on divergence processes in general. In this thesis, I use genomic approaches to investigate the forces underlying species and population differentiation in the European cryptic wood white butterflies (Leptidea sinapis, L. reali and L. juvernica) and two closely related bird species, the chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita abietinus) and the Siberian chiffchaff (P. tristis). Both these groups contain recently diverged species, a prerequisite for investigating initial differentiation processes. However, the study systems also differ in several respects, allowing for applying distinct approaches to understand the divergence process in each system.
In summary, by applying a suite of genomic approaches, my thesis work gives novel insights into the speciation history of wood whites and chiffchaff. I identify candidate genes for local adaptation in both systems and concludes that genome differentiation in wood white butterflies have been driven by a combination of random genetic drift and week directional selection in allopatry. In the chiffchaff, the general differentiation landscape seems to have been shaped by recurrent background selection (and potentially selective sweeps), likely as a consequence of regional variation in the recombination rate which has also been observed in other genome-scans in birds. Potentially, some of the highly differentiated regions contain barriers to gene-flow as these regions are still present in sympatry, where species exchange genetic material at a high rate.