Browsing by Subject "population structure"

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  • Mostowy, Rafal; Croucher, Nicholas J.; Andam, Cheryl P.; Corander, Jukka; Hanage, William P.; Marttinen, Pekka (2017)
    Prokaryotic evolution is affected by horizontal transfer of genetic material through recombination. Inference of an evolutionary tree of bacteria thus relies on accurate identification of the population genetic structure and recombination-derived mosaicism. Rapidly growing databases represent a challenge for computational methods to detect recombinations in bacterial genomes. We introduce a novel algorithm called fastGEAR which identifies lineages in diverse microbial alignments, and recombinations between them and from external origins. The algorithm detects both recent recombinations (affecting a few isolates) and ancestral recombinations between detected lineages (affecting entire lineages), thus providing insight into recombinations affecting deep branches of the phylogenetic tree. In simulations, fastGEAR had comparable power to detect recent recombinations and outstanding power to detect the ancestral ones, compared with state-of-the-art methods, often with a fraction of computational cost. We demonstrate the utility of the method by analyzing a collection of 616 whole-genomes of a recombinogenic pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae, for which the method provided a high-resolution view of recombination across the genome. We examined in detail the penicillin-binding genes across the Streptococcus genus, demonstrating previously undetected genetic exchanges between different species at these three loci. Hence, fastGEAR can be readily applied to investigate mosaicism in bacterial genes across multiple species. Finally, fastGEAR correctly identified many known recombination hotspots and pointed to potential new ones. Matlab code and Linux/Windows executables are available at https://users.ics.aalto.fi/similar to pemartti/fastGEAR/ (last accessed February 6, 2017).
  • Bergman, Nora (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Rapid environmental changes over the last 100 years have led to substantial range shifts across taxonomic groups. Understanding what facilitates successful shifts is important for predicting ecological consequences and planning efficient conservation actions. Interestingly, the very process of range expansion can affect the success of the shift by causing genetic changes in the expanding populations. Theory predicts that without sufficient gene flow, repeated founder events and strong genetic drift can result in allele frequency gradients and loss of genetic diversity along the expansion axis. Empirical studies testing these expectations in environment-driven range shifts are still relatively scarce, and how range expansions affect genetics in highly mobile species remains unclear. In this study, I investigated the genetic consequences of a recent range expansion in a long-distance migratory passerine, the reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). Utilizing genome-wide data from restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq), I studied whether the expansion was reflected in either population structure or genetic diversity of the recently established Finnish range edge population. Despite philopatry and genetic differentiation to the range core populations, principal component analysis (PCA) and a model-based Bayesian clustering approach (fineRADstructure) revealed a lack of spatial population structure along a putative colonization route. Levels of genetic diversity, based on expected heterozygosity, nucleotide diversity, and private allele count, were found to be very similar between range edge (Finland) and range core (Central Europe). The results likely indicate high levels of gene flow both within the new population and across greater spatial distances during or after the range expansion. Due to a detected sequencing batch effect, however, the exact diversity estimates must be considered preliminary. These findings suggest that species with high enough dispersal propensity may escape the predicted genetic costs of range expansions, retaining high levels of genetic variation at range margins. This study provides valuable insights for understanding range shifts in mobile taxa, and highlights the need to investigate further the traits of species that enable the preservation of evolutionary potential during range shifts.
  • Westerbom, Mats; Kraufvelin, Patrik; Mustonen, Olli; Diaz, Eliecer (2021)
    Advancing our understanding of how environmental variability affects the distribution of organisms is crucial for ecology and conservation. The exploration of changes in demographic patterns close to species distribution margins is important as populations here may provide a window into future population changes also elsewhere. However, the knowledge of factors causing recruitment variation is still inadequate in many systems and this deficiency is particularly evident close to species' distribution borders. We studied the spatiotemporal variability in recruit-adult dynamics in a blue mussel, Mytilus trossulus, population to get insights into how environmental variables drive variation in recruitment and how this variability affects adult population growth. Thirty sites along a wave exposure gradient were monitored during four consecutive years. From each site, mussels were collected both from artificial recruitment units and from natural mussel beds. Our results showed high year-to-year variation in recruitment strength with high spatial variation. Mussel recruitment to artificial units and later recruitment to the benthos correlated highly. Juvenile abundances 1 year later paralleled prior recruitment strengths and caused synchronous but time-lagged changes in adult cohorts. Seawater salinity was the strongest predictor for recruitment variation, whereas sea temperature and wave exposure had low predictive power for this early life stage. For juveniles and for adults in the benthos, wave exposure explained the variation best, whereas temperature and especially salinity explained less. The results indicate that (a) the studied blue mussel population is strongly driven by variation in recruitment strength that (b) drives the size of the later cohorts, and the population is possibly even (c) recruitment limited in some years. Our study predicts a challenging future for this range population, resulting from a higher frequency of recruitment failure caused by a deteriorating sea climate. Knowledge about factors underlying variation in recruitment is thus essential for forecasting the future of this range population and for conserving its future state.
  • Kerminen, Sini; Havulinna, Aki S.; Hellenthal, Garrett; Martin, Alicia R.; Sarin, Antti-Pekka; Perola, Markus; Palotie, Aarno; Salomaa, Veikko; Daly, Mark J.; Ripatti, Samuli; Pirinen, Matti (2017)
    Coupling dense genotype data with new computational methods offers unprecedented opportunities for individual-level ancestry estimation once geographically precisely defined reference data sets become available. We study such a reference data set for Finland containing 2376 such individuals from the FINRISK Study survey of 1997 both of whose parents were born close to each other. This sampling strategy focuses on the population structure present in Finland before the 1950s. By using the recent haplotype-based methods ChromoPainter (CP) and FineSTRUCTURE (FS) we reveal a highly geographically clustered genetic structure in Finland and report its connections to the settlement history as well as to the current dialectal regions of the Finnish language. The main genetic division within Finland shows striking concordance with the 1323 borderline of the treaty of Noteborg. In general, we detect genetic substructure throughout the country, which reflects stronger regional genetic differences in Finland compared to, for example, the UK, which in a similar analysis was dominated by a single unstructured population. We expect that similar population genetic reference data sets will become available for many more populations in the near future with important applications, for example, in forensic genetics and in genetic association studies. With this in mind, we report those extensions of the CP + FS approach that we found most useful in our analyses of the Finnish data.
  • Laiho, Elina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a small mammal native to the Iberian Peninsula, but introduced by humans to all continents except Antarctica. The rabbit has been a remarkably successful invasive species due to its generalist nature and fast reproduction. Its spreading has mostly been destructive to the local nature, and humans have used fatal rabbit diseases such as rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) to control harmful populations. The rabbit population in Helsinki is one of the most northern annually surviving rabbit populations in the world. It is believed to have originated from escaped pet rabbits in the late 1980s, and in the early 2000s, the rabbits spread rapidly around the Helsinki area. RHD spread unintentionally to Finland in 2016, and the disease caused a significant reduction in the Helsinki rabbit population. Rabbit population genetics has previously been studied in several countries, but never before in Finland. The aim of the thesis was to examine the genetic diversity and population structure of the Helsinki rabbit population before and after the RHD epidemic, and to compare the results to similar preceding rabbit population genetic studies. Rabbit populations have previously been found to recover from major population crashes without a notable loss in genetic diversity using DNA microsatellite markers. The recent RHD epidemic in Helsinki provided an opportunity to study, whether a rabbit population can recover from a population crash even in a harsher environment without losing genetic diversity. To conduct genetic analysis, fourteen DNA microsatellite loci were genotyped from individuals caught during two distinct time periods, in 2008-2009 (n=130) and in 2019-2020 (n=59). Population structure was observed in both temporal rabbit populations with small but significant FST values. The 2019-2020 population was more diverse than the 2008-2009 population in terms of allele numbers and expected heterozygosity. This result was unexpected considering the recent RHD-epidemic but could be explained by gene flow from new escaped rabbits. Compared to other wild rabbit populations around the world, the Helsinki area rabbits exhibit significantly lower genetic diversity. Bottleneck tests showed a significant signal separately in both temporal populations, but the RHD bottleneck cannot be distinguished based on the tests. The results could be biased by new gene flow, or the initial bottleneck caused by the founder effect of only a few pet rabbits. The rabbits have demonstrated their adaptation and survival skills in the cold climate of Helsinki. The population has significantly lower genetic diversity compared to other wild populations, yet recovered from a major RHD epidemic without reduction in genetic diversity under these more extreme environmental conditions. It has been proven again; the rabbit is a thriving invasive species.
  • Chertov, Nikita; Vasilyeva, Yulia; Zhulanov, Andrei; Nechaeva, Yu; Boronnikova, Svetlana; Kalendar, Ruslan (2021)
    The Ural Mountains and the West Eurasian Taiga forests are one of the most important centers of genetic diversity for Larix sibirica Ledeb. Forest fragmentation negatively impacts forest ecosystems, especially due to the impact of their intensive use on the effects of climate change. For the preservation and rational use of forest genetic resources, it is necessary to carefully investigate the genetic diversity of the main forest-forming plant species. The Larix genus species are among the most widespread woody plants in the world. The Siberian larch (Larix sibirica, Pinaceae) is found in the forest, forest-tundra, tundra (Southern part), and forest-steppe zones of the North, Northeast, and partly East of the European part of Russia and in Western and Eastern Siberia; in the Urals, the Siberian larch is distributed fragmentarily. In this study, eight pairs of simple sequence repeat (SSR) primers were used to analyse the genetic diversity and population structure of 15 Siberian larch populations in the Urals. Natural populations in the Urals exhibit indicators of genetic diversity comparable to those of Siberia populations (expected heterozygosity, He = 0.623; expected number of alleles, Ne = 4017; observed heterozygosity, Ho = 0.461). Genetic structure analysis revealed that the examined populations are relatively highly differentiated (Fst = 0.089). Using various algorithms for determining the spatial genetic structure, the examined populations formed three groups according to geographical location. The data obtained are required for the development of species conservation and restoration programs, which are especially important in the Middle Urals, which is the region with strong forest fragmentation.
  • Lilley, Thomas M.; Sävilammi, Tiina; Ossa, Gonzalo; Blomberg, Anna S.; Vasemägi, Anti; Yung, Veronica; Vendrami, David L. J.; Johnson, Joseph S. (2020)
    Despite its peculiar distribution, the biology of the southernmost bat species in the world, the Chilean myotis (Myotis chiloensis), has garnered little attention so far. The species has a north-south distribution of c. 2800 km, mostly on the eastern side of the Andes mountain range. Use of extended torpor occurs in the southernmost portion of the range, putting the species at risk of bat white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease responsible for massive population declines in North American bats. Here, we examined how geographic distance and topology would be reflected in the population structure of M. chiloensis along the majority of its range using a double digestion RAD-seq method. We sampled 66 individuals across the species range and discovered pronounced isolation-by-distance. Furthermore, and surprisingly, we found higher degrees of heterozygosity in the southernmost populations compared to the north. A coalescence analysis revealed that our populations may still not have reached secondary contact after the Last Glacial Maximum. As for the potential spread of pathogens, such as the fungus causing WNS, connectivity among populations was noticeably low, especially between the southern hibernatory populations in the Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego, and more northerly populations. This suggests the probability of geographic spread of the disease from the north through bat-to-bat contact to susceptible populations is low. The study presents a rare case of defined population structure in a bat species and warrants further research on the underlying factors contributing to this. See the graphical abstract here.