Common Genetic Basis of Eye and Pigment Loss in Two Distinct Cave Populations of the Isopod Crustacean Asellus aquaticus.
Digital Object Identifier / DOI
Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Integrative and Comparative Biology
Repeated evolution of similar phenotypes is a widespread phenomenon found throughout the living world and it can proceed through the same or different genetic mechanisms. Cave animals with their convergent traits such as eye and pigment loss, as well as elongated appendages, are a striking example of the evolution of similar phenotypes. Yet, few cave species are amenable to genetic crossing and mapping techniques making it challenging to determine the genetic mechanisms causing their similar phenotypes. To address this limitation, we have been developing Asellus aquaticus, a freshwater isopod crustacean, as a genetic model. Many of its cave populations originate from separate colonization events and thus independently evolved their similar cave-related phenotypes which differ from the still existent ancestral-like surface populations. In our prior work, we identified genomic regions responsible for eye and pigment loss in a single cave population from Slovenia. In this study we examined another, independently evolved cave population, also from Slovenia, and asked whether the same or different genomic regions are responsible for eye and pigment loss in the two cave populations. We generated F2 and backcross hybrids with a surface population, genotyped them for the previously identified genomic regions, and performed a complementation test by crossing individuals from the two cave populations. We found out that the same genomic regions are responsible for eye and pigment loss and that at least one of the genes causing pigment loss is the same in both cave populations. Future studies will identify the actual genes and mutations, as well as examine additional cave populations to see if the same genes are commonly associated with eye and pigment loss in this species.
Copyright © 2018, Oxford University Press