Gene Mapping in Ficedula Flycatchers

University dissertation from Uppsala : Universitetsbiblioteket

Abstract: In order to get full understanding of how evolution proceeds in natural settings it is necessary to reveal the genetic basis of the phenotypic traits that play a role for individual fitness in different environments. There are a few possible approaches, most of which stem from traditional mapping efforts in domestic animals and other model species. Here we set the stage for gene mapping in natural populations of birds by producing a large number of anchor markers of broad utility for avian genetical research and use these markers to generate a genetic map of the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis). The map reveals a very high degree of synteny and gene order conservation between bird species separated by as much as 100 million years. This is encouraging for later stages of mapping procedures in natural populations since this means that there is a possibility to use the information from already characterized avian genomes to track candidate genes for detailed analysis in non-model species. One interesting aspect of the low degree of rearrangements occurring in the avian genomes is that this could play a role in the low rate of hybridization barriers formed in birds compared to for instance mammals. An analysis of Z-linked gene markers reveals relatively long-range linkage disequilibrium (LD) in collared flycatchers compared to other outbred species but still, LD seems to decay within < 50 kb indicating that > 20.000 markers would be needed to cover the genome in an association scan. A detailed scan of 74 Z-linked genes evenly distributed along the chromosome in both the collared flycatcher and the pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) indicates that there are regions that evolve under directional selection, regions that might harbor loci of importance for adaptive divergence and/or hybrid inviability.

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