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Contemporary and historical selection in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) support novel, polygenic response to transmissible cancer


Stahlke, AR and Epstein, B and Barbosa, S and Margres, MJ and Patton, AH and Hendricks, SA and Veillet, A and Fraik, AK and Schonfeld, B and McCallum, HI and Hamede, R and Jones, ME and Storfer, A and Hohenlohe, PA, Contemporary and historical selection in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) support novel, polygenic response to transmissible cancer, Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Biological Sciences, 288 Article 20210577. ISSN 0962-8452 (2021) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

2021 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2021.0577


Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) are evolving in response to a unique transmissible cancer, devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), first described in 1996. Persistence of wild populations and the recent emergence of a second independently evolved transmissible cancer suggest that transmissible cancers may be a recurrent feature in devils. Here, we compared signatures of selection across temporal scales to determine whether genes or gene pathways under contemporary selection (six to eight generations) have also been subject to historical selection (6585 Myr). First, we used targeted sequencing, RAD-capture, in approximately 2500 devils in six populations to identify genomic regions subject to rapid evolution. We documented genome-wide contemporary evolution, including 186 candidate genes related to cell cycling and immune response. Then we used a molecular evolution approach to identify historical positive selection in devils compared to other marsupials and found evidence of selection in 1773 genes. However, we found limited overlap across time scales, with only 16 shared candidate genes, and no overlap in enriched functional gene sets. Our results are consistent with a novel, multi-locus evolutionary response of devils to DFTD. Our results can inform conservation by identifying high priority targets for genetic monitoring and guiding maintenance of adaptive potential in managed populations.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease, rapid evolution
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Biological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments
UTAS Author:Schonfeld, B (Dr Barbara Schonfeld)
UTAS Author:Hamede, R (Dr Rodrigo Hamede Ross)
UTAS Author:Jones, ME (Professor Menna Jones)
ID Code:147003
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2021-10-07
Last Modified:2021-12-07
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