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Gudgeon fish with and without genetically determined countershading coexist in heterogeneous littoral environments of an ancient lake

Citation

Kokita, Tomoyuki (2022), Gudgeon fish with and without genetically determined countershading coexist in heterogeneous littoral environments of an ancient lake, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.c2fqz618m

Abstract

Countershading, characterized by a darker dorsal surface and lighter ventral surface, is common among many animals. This dorsoventral pigment polarity is often thought to be adaptive coloration for camouflage. By contrast, non-countershaded (melanistic) morphs often occur within a species due to genetic color polymorphism in terrestrial animals. However, the polymorphism with either countershaded or melanistic morphs is poorly known in wild aquatic animals. This study explored the genetic nature of diverged color morphs of a lineage of gudgeon fish (genus Sarcocheilichthys) in the ancient Lake Biwa, and propose this system as a novel model for testing hypotheses of functional aspects of countershading and its loss in aquatic environments. This system harbors two color morphs that have been treated taxonomically as separate species; S. variegatus microoculus which occurs throughout the littoral zone, and S. biwaensis which occurs in and around rocky areas. First, we confirmed that the divergence of dorsoventral color patterns between the two morphs is under strict genetic control at the levels of chromatophore distribution and melanin-related gene expression under common garden rearing. The former morph displayed sharp countershading coloration, whereas the latter morph exhibited a strong tendency towards its loss. The crossing results indicated that this divergence was likely controlled by a single locus in a two-allele Mendelian-inheritance pattern. Furthermore, our population genomic and genome-wide association study analyses detected no genome-wide divergence between the two morphs, except for one region near a locus that may be associated with the color divergence. Thus, these morphs are either in a state of intraspecific color polymorphism or two incipient species. Evolutionary forces underlying this polymorphism appears to be associated with heterogeneous littoral environments in this lake. Future ecological genomic research will provide insight into adaptive functions of this widespread coloration, including the eco-evolutionary drivers of its loss, in the aquatic world.

Methods

Please see corresponding manuscript for all the methods for the collection and processing of data.

Usage Notes

The file contains data about chromatophore distribution patterns of the Sarcocheilichthys variegatus microoculus (SV) and Sarcocheilichthys biwaensis (SB) morphs. The cell numbers (per mm2 on scale skin) of melanophores and xanthophores for each of five selected regions (area A–E ) in each family (n = 6 individuals per family) were shown.

Funding

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: 26291079

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: 17H03720

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: 20H03009