Inter and Intraspecific genomic divergence in Drosophila montana shows evidence for cold adaptation

Darren Parker, R. Axel W. Wiberg, Urmi Trivedi, Venera I. Tyukmaeva, Karim Gharbi, Roger K. Butlin, Anneli Hoikkala, Maaria Kankare, Michael Ritchie

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The genomes of species that are ecological specialists will likely contain signatures of genomic adaptation to their niche. However, distinguishing genes related to ecological specialism from other sources of selection and more random changes is a challenge. Here we describe the genome of Drosophila montana, which is the most extremely cold-adapted Drosophila species. We use branch tests to identify genes showing accelerated divergence in contrasts between cold- and warm adapted species and identify about 250 genes that show differences, possibly driven by a lower synonymous substitution rate in cold-adapted species. We look for evidence of accelerated divergence between D. montana and D. virilis, a previously sequenced relative, and do not find strong evidence for divergent selection on coding sequence variation. Divergent genes are involved in a variety of functions, including cuticular and olfactory processes. We also re-sequenced three populations of D. montana from its ecological and geographic range. Outlier loci were more likely to be found on the X chromosome and there was a greater than expected overlap between population outliers and those genes implicated in cold adaptation between Drosophila species, implying some continuity of selective process at these different evolutionary scales.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2086–2101
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Issue number8
Early online date13 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Cold tolerance
  • Drosophilia montana
  • Ecological adaptation
  • Comparative genomics


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