Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
The trajectory of evolutionary adaptation can be influenced both by the interactions of organisms with their environments as well as by the biological characteristics of the organisms themselves. My dissertation research uses the New Zealand freshwater snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum to 1) gain important insight into how coevolutionary interactions between hosts and parasites influence patterns of gene expression and genetic differentiation of hosts and, 2) evaluate how reproductive mode, and ploidy level affect patterns of adaptive molecular evolution.
Coevolutionary interactions between hosts and parasites are a primary source of strong natural selection that can lead to rapid evolutionary change. Here, I used evaluation of patterns of gene expression and genetic differentiation to take critical steps towards characterizing the genomic basis of coevolutionary interactions between P. antipodarum and Microphallus livelyi. I found that M. livelyi-infected P. antipodarum exhibit systematic downregulation of genes relative to uninfected P. antipodarum. The specific genes involved in response to parasites differ markedly across lakes, consistent with population-specific host-parasite interactions leading to population-specific evolutionary trajectories. I also identified a set of rapidly evolving loci that represent promising candidates for targets of parasite-mediated selection across lakes as well as within each lake population. These results constitute the first genomic evidence for population-specific responses to coevolving infection in the P. antipodarum-M. livelyi interaction and provide new insights into the genomic basis of coevolutionary interactions in nature. I also generated and characterized the first transcriptomic resources for Microphallus parasites collected from two species of Potamopyrgus snails (P. antipodarum and P. estuarinus). These data both revealed that these parasites appear to represent distinct genetic lineages, which is interesting in light of the tight coevolutionary interactions between P. antipodarum and M. livelyi, and lay the groundwork for future research.
Polyploidy has the potential to facilitate adaptive evolution by providing redundant genome copies that are free to evolve new functions. By contrast, asexuality, with which polyploidy is often associated, is expected to restrict adaptive evolution by decreasing the efficacy of natural selection and access to new genetic variation. I evaluated whether and how ploidy level and reproductive mode influence patterns of adaptive molecular evolution in P. antipodarum to assess 1) the potential evolutionary genomic benefits of recent polyploidy, and 2) how patterns of adaptive molecular evolution in asexuals are influenced by polyploidy. I compared patterns of positive selection in 60 genes across 27 P. antipodarum lineages (10 diploid sexuals, 12 triploid asexuals, 5 tetraploid asexuals) and a diploid sexual outgroup, Potamopyrgus estuarinus. I found little evidence that ploidy level and/or reproductive mode influence patterns of positive selection in P. antipodarum. Even so, this study provides initial steps in evaluating whether ploidy level and reproductive mode influence patterns of adaptive molecular evolution. Taken together, my dissertation work contributes new insights to the field of host-parasite coevolutionary interactions and will inform future studies into how ploidy level and reproductive mode influence patterns of adaptive molecular evolution.
adaptive molecular evolution, asexuality, gene expression, Host-parasite interactions, polyploidy, Potamopyrgus antipodarum
xiv, 291 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 284-291).
Copyright © 2017 Laura Bankers