Genomic consequences of human-mediated translocations in margin populations of an endangered amphibian

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  • eva.13229

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Due to their isolated and often fragmented nature, range margin populations are especially vulnerable to rapid environmental change. To maintain genetic diversity and adaptive potential, gene flow from disjunct populations might therefore be crucial to their survival. Translocations are often proposed as a mitigation strategy to increase genetic diversity in threatened populations. However, this also includes the risk of losing locally adapted alleles through genetic swamping. Human-mediated translocations of southern lineage specimens into northern German populations of the endangered European fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) provide an unexpected experimental set-up to test the genetic consequences of an intraspecific introgression from central population individuals into populations at the species range margin. Here, we utilize complete mitochondrial genomes and transcriptome nuclear data to reveal the full genetic extent of this translocation and the consequences it may have for these populations. We uncover signs of introgression in four out of the five northern populations investigated, including a number of introgressed alleles ubiquitous in all recipient populations, suggesting a possible adaptive advantage. Introgressed alleles dominate at the MTCH2 locus, associated with obesity/fat tissue in humans, and the DSP locus, essential for the proper development of epidermal skin in amphibians. Furthermore, we found loci where local alleles were retained in the introgressed populations, suggesting their relevance for local adaptation. Finally, comparisons of genetic diversity between introgressed and nonintrogressed northern German populations revealed an increase in genetic diversity in all German individuals belonging to introgressed populations, supporting the idea of a beneficial transfer of genetic variation from Austria into North Germany.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Pages (from-to)1623-1634
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • adaptive introgression, admixture, Bombina bombina, genetic rescue, mitogenomes, transcriptomics

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