The genomic basis of climate and host adaptation
AuthorRane, Rahul Vivek
School of BioSciences
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2017 Dr. Rahul Vivek Rane
Many species are currently threatened by the direct and indirect effects of anthropogenically driven climate change. The elevation of global temperatures and increase in variability in both temperature and precipitation pose a risk to biodiversity as species are pushed close to their thermal safety margins. Current predictions suggest a dramatic loss of species diversity and the contraction of geographical ranges of many species. Many ectothermic insects that cannot regulate their body temperature are likely to be threatened, particularly ecologically- restricted herbivorous insects that depend for on plants for food and that are often in phenological synchrony with their plant hosts. However, adaptive shifts in these species in response to host loss and climatic extremes may counter the effects of climate change to some extent. This highlights the importance of studying species-specific adaptation mechanisms including host interactions. This dissertation contributes to this overall aim by studying the genomic basis of climatic and host adaptation. I use Drosophila melanogaster as a model system at the intraspecific level, and Drosophila species from the repleta group as a model system for the comparative level. In assessing the genomic basis of host responses, I consider a much broader range of insect taxa. This dissertation begins with a study on the use of chromosome level sequencing of D. melanogaster populations from two ends of a thermal cline. I present genomic evidence for the role of the inversion 3R Payne in capturing alleles favourable to local climatic conditions in the non-inverted form, and therefore driving adaptation to climate change. The study further elucidates the impact of climatically important chromosomal inversions in driving higher linkage disequilibrium on the non-inverted form - potentially benefiting both karyotypes. In the second chapter, I develop a new pipeline, Orthonome, and tools for multi-species comparisons for prediction of orthologues and inparalogues with the highest accuracy and recall. Using Orthonome, I was able to identify a much greater level of conservation across Drosophilid lineages than earlier thought, amounting to nearly 33% better resolution than industry-accepted methods. I then use Orthonome in the third chapter to compare the genomes of 58 insect species – most of which are known to be agricultural pests. Testing across eight gene families, I present evidence for genomic patterns in only four gene families (P450s, CCEs, GSTs and ABCs) as being associated with polyphagy or particular host ranges. While three of them have been reported before, I find that ABC transporters present much stronger evidence than reflected in earlier studies, with feeding behaviour as well as host tissue displaying an effect on gene gain in more voracious pest species. Finally, in the last study, I use novel genomic data and evidence from the repleta group of drosophilids to carry out phylogenetically constrained analyses of genes potentially associated with host and thermal stress adaptation. My aim here is to find mutually exclusive evolutionary pathways to neofunctionalisation between stress tolerant cactophilic specialists and less tolerant generalists in the group. I also find a different adaptive response in the cactophilic species compared to the generalist species; these species show little lineage specific gene gain, suggesting an exception to current standing theories on neofunctionalisation for adaptation. I further discuss the applicability the species level and order level analyses for an overall detailed and systematic approach to identify the genomic basis of climatic and host adaptation.
Keywordsgenomics; comparative genomics; population genetics/genomics; bioinformatics
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