A large genomic insertion containing a duplicated follistatin gene is linked to the pea aphid male wing dimorphism

Wing dimorphisms have long served as models for examining the ecological and evolutionary tradeoffs associated with alternative phenotypes. Here, we investigated the genetic cause of the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) male wing dimorphism, wherein males exhibit one of two morphologies that differ in correlated traits that include the presence or absence of wings. We mapped this trait difference to a single genomic region and, using third generation, long-read sequencing, we identified a 120 kb insertion in the wingless allele. This insertion includes a duplicatedfollistatin gene, which is a strong candidate gene in the minimal mapped interval to cause the dimorphism. We found that both alleles were present prior to pea aphid biotype lineage diversification, we estimated that the insertion occurred millions of years ago, and we propose that both alleles have been maintained in the species, likely due to balancing selection.
Source: eLife - Category: Biomedical Science Tags: Evolutionary Biology Genetics and Genomics Source Type: research

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