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Journal Article

The genetics of seasonal migration and plumage color


Delmore,  Kira E.
Max Planck Research Group Behavioural Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Delmore, K. E., Toews, D., Germain, R., Owens, G., & Irwin, D. (2016). The genetics of seasonal migration and plumage color. Current Biology, 26(16), 2167-2173. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.06.015.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-3AE8-F
Details on the genetics of behavioral and quantitative phenotypes remain limited to a few organisms. Such information is central to understanding both adaptation and speciation, as many of these phenotypes reduce gene flow between taxa [1–3]. Hybrid zones provide an ideal arena for studying this topic, as they consist of recombinant genotypes that allow genetic mapping of traits distinguishing natural populations [4]. We examined the genetic basis of migratory orientation and plumage color, both of which may contribute to speciation, in a hybrid zone between two groups of Swainson's thrushes that differ in these traits. We identified a cluster of SNPs on chromosome 4 strongly associated with migratory orientation. Genes involved with the circadian clock, nervous system, and cell signaling were located here and included candidates implicated in smaller-scale studies of migration in different animal groups, supporting previous suggestions that there is a common gene package for migration [5]. Plumage color was more polygenic than migratory orientation but showed strong associations on the Z chromosome that included SNPs linked to TYRP1, a gene involved in the production of eumelanin. We integrated these results with genomic data from pure populations and found that regions associated with both phenotypes co-localized with regions of elevated relative differentiation between the groups. This finding relates to the literature on islands of differentiation [6–8] by implicating divergent selection in generating these peaks. Together, our results identify specific genomic regions involved in both the regulation of complex phenotypes across animal groups and speciation [9]. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd