Abstracts (first author)
Genetics of parallel phenotypic evolution in ninespine sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius) – a comparative genomic approach
Uncovering the genetic architecture of local adaptations is a central topic in contemporary evolutionary biology. Parallel phenotypic and physiological differentiation in independent populations provides strong evidence for evolution by natural selection. Pond populations of Fennoscandian ninespine sticklebacks, subject to strong genetic drift show parallel phenotypic divergence from their marine conspecifics in several traits (e.g. growth, behavior, body shape) apparently as a result of adaptation to reduced predation-risk. We are investigating genetic mechanisms underlying this parallel phenotypic evolution with the aid of genomic approaches utilizing F2-intercrosses between pond populations and a marine population. One of the main aims is to clarify whether the same (parallel evolution) or different (convergent evolution) genes and genomic regions are responsible for the repeated evolution of pond phenotypes. Targeting this, a high density linkage map based on SNP-markers has been constructed to identify genomic regions responsible for the phenotypic divergence among pond and marine populations. This also opens opportunities for comparative genomic studies among nine- and threespine sticklebacks. In future, linkage and QTL mapping for multiple crosses will give the first insights into genomic regions responsible for parallel phenotypic evolution in ninespine sticklebacks.