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Chironomus riparius (Diptera) genome sequencing reveals the impact of minisatellite transposable elements on population divergence

By Ann-Marie Waldvogel, Hanno Schmidt, Marcel Rose, Sören Lukas Hellmann, Florian Dolze, Fabian Ripp, Bettina Weich, Urs Schmidt-Ott, Erwin Schmidt, Robert Kofler, Thomas Hankeln, Markus Pfenninger

Posted 13 Oct 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/080721 (published DOI: 10.1111/mec.14111)

Active transposable elements (TEs) may result in divergent genomic insertion and abundance patterns among conspecific populations. Upon secondary contact, such divergent genetic backgrounds can theoretically give rise to classical Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities (DMI), a way how TEs can contribute to the evolution of endogenous genetic barriers and eventually population divergence. We investigated whether differential TE activity created endogenous selection pressures among conspecific populations of the non-biting midge Chironomus riparius, focussing on a Chironomus-specific TE, the minisatellite-like Cla-element, whose activity is associated with speciation in the genus. Using an improved and annotated draft genome for a genomic study with five natural C. riparius populations, we found highly population-specific TE insertion patterns with many private insertions. A highly significant correlation of pairwise population FST from genome-wide SNPs with the FST estimated from TEs suggests drift as the major force driving TE population differentiation. However, the significantly higher Cla-element FST level due to a high proportion of differentially fixed Cla-element insertions indicates that segregating, i.e. heterozygous insertions are selected against. With reciprocal crossing experiments and fluorescent in-situ hybridisation of Cla-elements to polytene chromosomes, we documented phenotypic effects on female fertility and chromosomal mispairings that might be linked to DMI in hybrids. We propose that the inferred negative selection on heterozygous Cla-element insertions causes endogenous genetic barriers and therefore acts as DMI among C. riparius populations. The intrinsic genomic turnover exerted by TEs, thus, may have a direct impact on population divergence that is operationally different from drift and local adaptation.

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