Adaptation via pleiotropy and linkage: association mapping reveals a complex genetic architecture within the Eda locus.

Archambeault, Sophie L.; Bärtschi, Luis R.; Merminod, Aurélie D.; Peichel, Catherine L. (2020). Adaptation via pleiotropy and linkage: association mapping reveals a complex genetic architecture within the Eda locus. Evolution letters, 4(4), pp. 282-301. Wiley 10.1002/evl3.175

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Genomic mapping of the loci associated with phenotypic evolution has revealed genomic “hotspots,” or regions of the genome that control multiple phenotypic traits. This clustering of loci has important implications for the speed and maintenance of adaptation and could be due to pleiotropic effects of a single mutation or tight genetic linkage of multiple causative mutations affecting different traits. The threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) is a powerful model for the study of adaptive evolution because the marine ecotype has repeatedly adapted to freshwater environments across the northern hemisphere in the last 12,000 years. Freshwater ecotypes have repeatedly fixed a 16 kilobase haplotype on chromosome IV that contains Ectodysplasin (Eda), a gene
known to affect multiple traits, including defensive armor plates, lateral line sensory hair cells, and schooling behavior. Many additional traits have previously been mapped to a larger region of chromosome IV that encompasses the Eda freshwater haplotype. To identify which of these traits specifically map to this adaptive haplotype, we made crosses of rare marine fish heterozygous for
the freshwater haplotype in an otherwise marine genetic background. Further, we performed fine-scale association mapping in a fully interbreeding, polymorphic population of freshwater stickleback to disentangle the effects of pleiotropy and linkage on the phenotypes affected by this haplotype. Although we find evidence that linked mutations have small effects on a few phenotypes, a small 1.4-kb region within the first intron of Eda has large effects on three phenotypic traits: lateral plate count, and both the number and patterning of the posterior lateral line neuromasts. Thus, the Eda haplotype is a hotspot of adaptation in stickleback
due to both a small, pleiotropic region affecting multiple traits as well as multiple linked mutations affecting additional traits.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Evolutionary Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Archambeault, Sophie Louise; Bärtschi, Luis Roberto and Peichel, Catherine


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology








Catherine Peichel

Date Deposited:

07 Sep 2020 15:06

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2020 15:13

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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