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Vijay, Nagarjun; Bossu, Christen M.; Poelstra, Jelmer W.; Weissensteiner, Matthias H.; Suh, Alexander; Kryukov, Alexey P. and Wolf, Jochen B. W. (2016): Evolution of heterogeneous genome differentiation across multiple contact zones in a crow species complex. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 7, 13195 [PDF, 1MB]

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Uncovering the genetic basis of species diversification is a central goal in evolutionary biology. Yet, the link between the accumulation of genomic changes during population divergence and the evolutionary forces promoting reproductive isolation is poorly understood. Here, we analysed 124 genomes of crow populations with various degrees of genome-wide differentiation, with parallelism of a sexually selected plumage phenotype, and ongoing hybridization. Overall, heterogeneity in genetic differentiation along the genome was best explained by linked selection exposed on a shared genome architecture. Superimposed on this common background, we identified genomic regions with signatures of selection specific to independent phenotypic contact zones. Candidate pigmentation genes with evidence for divergent selection were only partly shared, suggesting context-dependent selection on a multigenic trait architecture and parallelism by pathway rather than by repeated single-gene effects. This study provides insight into how various forms of selection shape genome-wide patterns of genomic differentiation as populations diverge.

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