Genomic divergence and adaptive convergence in Drosophila simulans from Evolution Canyon, Israel


Biodiversity refugia formed by unique features of the Mediterranean arid landscape, such as the dramatic ecological contrast of "Evolution Canyon," provide a natural laboratory in which local adaptations to divergent microclimate conditions can be investigated. Significant insights have been provided by studies of Drosophila melanogaster diversifying along the thermal gradient in Evolution Canyon, but a comparative framework to survey adaptive convergence across sister species at the site has been lacking. To fill this void, we present an analysis of genomic polymorphism and evolutionary divergence of Drosophila simulans, a close relative of Drosophila melanogaster with which it co-occurs on both slopes of the canyon. Our results show even deeper interslope divergence in D. simulans than in D. melanogaster, with extensive signatures of selective sweeps present in flies from both slopes but enhanced in the population from the hotter and drier south-facing slope. Interslope divergence was enriched for genes related to electrochemical balance and transmembrane transport, likely in response to increased selection for dehydration resistance on the hotter slope. Both species shared genomic regions that underwent major selective sweeps, but the overall level of adaptive convergence was low, demonstrating no shortage of alternative genomic solutions to cope with the challenges of the microclimate contrast. Mobile elements were a major source of genetic polymorphism and divergence, affecting all parts of the genome, including coding sequences of mating behavior-related genes.



adaptive evolution, selective sweeps, evolutionary convergence, local adaptations