UBC Graduate Research

Scale and direction of adaptive introgression between black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) and balsam poplar (P. balsamifera) Suarez-Gonzalez, Adriana; Hefer, Charles A.; Lexer, Christian; Cronk, Quentin C. B.; Douglas, Carl J.


Introgression can introduce novel genetic variation at a faster rate than mutation alone, and result in adaptive introgression when adaptive alleles are maintained in the recipient genome over time by natural selection. A previous study from our group demonstrated adaptive introgression from Populus balsamifera into P. trichocarpa in a target genomic region. Here we expand our local ancestry analysis to the whole genome of both parents to provide a comprehensive view of introgression patterns and to identify additional candidate regions for adaptive introgression genome-wide. Populus trichocarpa is a large, fast-growing tree of mild coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest, whereas P. balsamifera is a smaller stature tree of continental and boreal regions with intense winter-cold. The species hybridize where they are parapatric. We detected asymmetric patterns of introgression across the whole genome of these two poplar species adapted to contrasting environments, with stronger introgression from P. balsamifera to P. trichocarpa than vice versa. Admixed P. trichocarpa individuals contained more genomic regions with unusually high levels of introgression (19 regions) and also the largest introgressed genome fragment (1.02 Mb) compared with admixed P. balsamifera (9 regions). Our analysis also revealed numerous candidate regions for adaptive introgression with strong signals of selection, notably related to disease resistance, and enriched for genes that may play crucial roles in survival and adaptation. Furthermore, we detected a potential overrepresentation of subtelomeric regions in P. balsamifera introgressed into P. trichocarpa and possible protection of sex-determining regions from interspecific gene flow.

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