Long-term Balancing Selection Drives Evolution of Immunity Genes in ​Capsella

​Capsella rubella flowers

Researchers from Detlef Weigel's lab have published a preprint on biorxiv.org, co-authored by Jörg who is now a Computomics team member, about long-term balancing selection drives evolution of immunity genes in two Capsella species.

Koenig et al. (2018) https://doi.org/10.1101/477612

Genetic drift is expected to remove polymorphism from populations over long periods of time, with the rate of polymorphism loss being accelerated when species experience strong reductions in population size. Adaptive forces that maintain genetic variation in populations, or balancing selection, might counteract this process.

To understand the extent to which ​natural selection can drive the retention of genetic diversity, we document genomic variability after two parallel species-wide bottlenecks in the genus ​Capsella​. We find that ancestral variation preferentially persists at immunity related loci, and that the same collection of alleles has been maintained in different lineages that have been separated for several million years. Our data point to long term balancing selection as an important factor shaping the genetics of immune systems in plants and as the predominant driver of genomic variability after a population bottleneck​.

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