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Drivers of genetic differentiation and recent evolutionary history of an Eurasian wild pea


Hellwig, Timo; Abbo, Shahal; Ophir, Ron (2022), Drivers of genetic differentiation and recent evolutionary history of an Eurasian wild pea, Dryad, Dataset,


Aim: Genetic diversity is a major determinant for the capacity of species to persist and adapt to their environments. Unraveling the factors affecting genetic differentiation is crucial to understand how genetic diversity is shaped and species may react to changing environments. We investigated the drivers of genetic differentiation and their interplay with the evolutionary history in a wild pea to test how those may have affected the distribution of genetic diversity.

Location: Mediterranean basin, western Asia

Taxon: Pisum sativum (Fabaceae)

Methods: We employed RAD-seqencing to test the influence of environmental factors on genetic differentiation in a collection of 81 wild pea samples. Demographic history and past expansion patterns were analyzed to test their effect on the current distribution of genetic diversity. Association of SNPs with environmental variables were analyses to find signatures of local adaptation.

Results: Genetic variation was geographically structured into six distinct genetic clusters. The effect of the tested factors influencing genetic differentiation was variable among genetic clusters. Climate predictors were most important in all clusters. Land use was more important in clusters from areas strongly influenced by human land use, especially by agriculture. We found statistically significant associations of 3,623 SNPs with environmental variables. Most of them were correlated with latitude followed by temperature. Wild peas went through a genetic bottleneck during the last glacial period followed by population recovery. The detected range expansion patterns suggested an eastward range expansion of the European cluster to Turkey and thereof southwards and eastwards.

Main conclusion: Our results suggest that it is insufficient to consider the present distribution of genetic diversity alone but rather consider it in conjunction with the evolutionary history of the respective species. Moreover, the distribution of genetic variation has to be viewed in the context of its hierarchical structure and the environment of its genetic entities to understand how this variation was shaped and may change in the future.