Experimental evidence for rapid genomic adaptation to a new niche in an adaptive radiation. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • A substantial part of biodiversity is thought to have arisen from adaptive radiations in which one lineage rapidly diversified into multiple lineages specialized to many different niches. However, selection and drift reduce genetic variation during adaptation to new niches and may thus prevent or slow down further niche shifts. We tested whether rapid adaptation is still possible from a highly derived ecotype in the adaptive radiation of threespine stickleback on the Haida Gwaii archipelago, Western Canada. In a 19-year selection experiment, we let giant sticklebacks from a large blackwater lake evolve in a small clearwater pond without vertebrate predators. A total of 56 whole genomes from the experiment and 26 natural populations revealed that adaptive genomic change was rapid in many small genomic regions and encompassed 75% of the change between 12,000-year-old ecotypes. Genomic change was as fast as phenotypic change in defence and trophic morphology, and both were largely parallel between the short-term selection experiment and long-term natural adaptive radiation. Our results show that functionally relevant standing genetic variation can persist in derived radiation members, allowing adaptive radiations to unfold very rapidly.

publication date

  • July 2018