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Comparative whole-genome analysis reveals genetic adaptation of the invasive pinewood nematode

By Jiarui Li, Xinyue Cheng, Runmao Lin, Shijun Xiao, Xinxin Yi, Zhenchuan Mao, Xi Zhang, Jian Ling, Xiaojun Kou, Xia Yan, Ji Luo, Feixue Cheng, Yilong Li, Laifa Wang, Nansheng Chen, Bingyan Xie

Posted 11 Oct 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/439612

Genetic adaptation to new environments is essential for invasive species. To explore the genetic underpinnings of invasiveness of a dangerous invasive species, the pinewood nematode (PWN) Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, we analysed the genome-wide variations of a large cohort of 55 strains isolated from both the native and introduced regions. Comparative analysis showed abundant genetic diversity existing in the nematode, especially in the native populations. Phylogenetic relationships and principal component analysis indicate a dominant invasive population/group (DIG) existing in China and expansion beyond, with few genomic variations. Putative origin and migration paths at a global scale were traced by targeted analysis of rDNA sequences. A progressive loss of genetic diversity was observed along spread routes. We focused on variations with a low frequency allele (<50%) in the native USA population but fixation in DIG, and a total of 25,992 single nuclear polymorphisms (SNPs) were screened out. We found that a clear majority of these fixation alleles originated from standing variation. Functional annotation of these SNP-harboured genes showed that adaptation-related genes are abundant, such as genes that encode for chemoreceptors, proteases, detoxification enzymes, and proteins involved in signal transduction and in response to stresses and stimuli. Some genes under positive selection were predicted. Our results suggest that adaptability to new environments plays essentially roles in PWN invasiveness. Genetic drift, mutation and strong selection drive the nematode to rapidly evolve in adaptation to new environments, which including local pine hosts, vector beetles, commensal microflora and other new environmental factors, during invasion process.

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