Experimental evidence that thermal selection shapes mitochondrial genome evolution

Zdeněk Lajbner, Reuven Pnini, M. Florencia Camus, Jonathan Miller, Damian K. Dowling

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26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mitochondria are essential organelles, found within eukaryotic cells, which contain their own DNA. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has traditionally been used in population genetic and biogeographic studies as a maternally-inherited and evolutionary-neutral genetic marker. However, it is now clear that polymorphisms within the mtDNA sequence are routinely non-neutral, and furthermore several studies have suggested that such mtDNA polymorphisms are also sensitive to thermal selection. These observations led to the formulation of the "mitochondrial climatic adaptation" hypothesis, for which all published evidence to date is correlational. Here, we use laboratory-based experimental evolution in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to test whether thermal selection can shift population frequencies of two mtDNA haplogroups whose natural frequencies exhibit clinal associations with latitude along the Australian east-coast. We present experimental evidence that the thermal regime in which the laboratory populations were maintained drove changes in haplogroup frequencies across generations. Our results strengthen the emerging view that intra-specific mtDNA variants are sensitive to selection, and suggest spatial distributions of mtDNA variants in natural populations of metazoans might reflect adaptation to climatic environments rather than within-population coalescence and diffusion of selectively-neutral haplotypes across populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9500
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

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