Nov 5, 2018

Drift and directional selection are the evolutionary forces driving gene expression divergence in eye and brain tissue of Heliconius butterflies

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Ana CatalánAdriana D Briscoe


Investigating gene expression evolution over micro- and macroevolutionary timescales will expand our understanding of the role of gene expression in adaptation and speciation processes. In this study, we characterised which evolutionary forces are acting on gene expression levels in eye and brain tissue of five Heliconius butterflies with divergent times of ~5-12 MYA. We implemented Brownian motion and Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models to identify gene expression levels evolving through genetic drift, stabilizing selection and those genes whose gene expression have experience a lineage specific shift. We uncovered that 81% of the genes evolve under genetic drift. When testing for branch specific shifts in gene expression, we detected 368 (16%) shift events. Genes presenting a shift towards an up-regulation have significantly lower gene expression variance than those showing a shift leading to a down-regulation. We hypothesise that directional selection is acting in shifts causing up-regulation, especially since transcription is costly. We further uncover through simulations that Ornstein-Uhlenbeck parameter estimation is biased when using small phylogenies and that parameter estimation only becomes reliable with phylogenies having at l...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Genetic Drift
Transcription, Genetic
Gene Expression

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