Genetic Architecture of Conspicuous Red Ornaments in Female Threespine Stickleback

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Date

2016-03

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Authors

Yong, Lengxob
Peichel, Catherine L.
McKinnon, Jeffrey S.

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Abstract

Explaining the presence of conspicuous female ornaments that take the form of male-typical traits has been a longstanding challenge in evolutionary biology. Such female ornaments have been proposed to evolve via both adaptive and nonadaptive evolutionary processes. Determining the genetic underpinnings of female ornaments is important for elucidating the mechanisms by which such female traits arise and persist in natural populations, but detailed information about their genetic basis is still scarce. In this study, we investigated the genetic architecture of two ornaments, the orange-red throat and pelvic spine, in the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Throat coloration is male-specific in ancestral marine populations but has evolved in females in some derived stream populations, whereas sexual dimorphism in pelvic spine coloration is variable among populations. We find that ornaments share a common genetic architecture between the sexes. At least three independent genomic regions contribute to red throat coloration, and harbor candidate genes related to pigment production and pigment cell differentiation. One of these regions is also associated with spine coloration, indicating that both ornaments might be mediated partly via pleiotropic genetic mechanisms.

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DOI

10.1534/g3.115.024505

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