Aug 4, 2017

Winter storms drive rapid phenotypic, regulatory, and genomic shifts in the green anole lizard

by
Shane C. Campbell-Staton, Zachary A. Cheviron, Nicholas Rochette, Julian Catchen, Jonathan B. Losos, Scott V. Edwards
,
Science

Lizards that did not survive this cold event may have had genetic variants that would have made them more resilient to a heat wave or a drought—now those lineages may be lost.

Shane Campbell-Staton, Ph.D. ’15 and study lead-author


  • States that extreme environmental perturbations offer opportunities to observe the effects of natural selection in wild populations
  • States that during the winter of 2013–2014, the southeastern United States endured an extreme cold event
  • The study authors use thermal performance, transcriptomics, and genome scans to measure responses of lizard populations to storm-induced selection
  • Finds significant increases in cold tolerance at the species’ southern limit
  • Finds that gene expression in southern survivors shifted toward patterns characteristic of northern populations
  • Compares samples before and after the extreme winter, and finds 14 genomic regions were differentiated in the surviving southern population; four also exhibited signatures of local adaptation across the latitudinal gradient and implicate genes involved in nervous system function
  • Results suggest that extreme winter events can rapidly produce strong selection on natural populations at multiple biological levels that recapitulate geographic patterns of local adaptation