In MBE: North American Arabidopsis

Multiple Sources of Introduction of North American Arabidopsis thaliana from across Eurasia

Gautam Shirsekar et al., Molecular Biology and Evolution, published September 9, 2021

Large-scale movement of organisms across their habitable range, or migration, is an important evolutionary process that can shape genetic diversity and influence the adaptive spread of alleles. Although human migrations have been studied in great detail with modern and ancient genomes, recent anthropogenic influence on reducing the biogeographical constraints on the migration of nonnative species has presented opportunities in several study systems to ask the questions about how repeated introductions shape genetic diversity in the introduced range. We present an extensive overview of population structure of North American Arabidopsis thaliana by studying a set of 500 whole-genome sequenced and over 2,800 RAD-seq genotyped individuals in the context of global diversity represented by Afro-Eurasian genomes. We use methods based on haplotype and rare-allele sharing as well as phylogenetic modeling to identify likely sources of introductions of extant N. American A. thaliana from the native range in Africa and Eurasia. We find evidence of admixture among the introduced lineages having increased haplotype diversity and reduced mutational load. We also detect signals of selection in immune-system-related genes that may impart qualitative disease resistance to pathogens of bacterial and oomycete origin. We conclude that multiple introductions to a nonnative range can rapidly enhance the adaptive potential of a colonizing species by increasing haplotypic diversity through admixture. Our results lay the foundation for further investigations into the functional significance of admixture.