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Repeated genetic adaptation to altitude in two tropical butterflies

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Montejo-Kovacevich, Gabriela  ORCID logo
Bacquet, Caroline N  ORCID logo
Warren, Ian A 
Chan, Yingguang Frank  ORCID logo


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pRepeated evolution can provide insight into the mechanisms that facilitate adaptation to novel or changing environments. Here we study adaptation to altitude in two tropical butterflies, jats:italicHeliconius erato</jats:italic> and jats:italicH. melpomene</jats:italic>, which have repeatedly and independently adapted to montane habitats on either side of the Andes. We sequenced 518 whole genomes from altitudinal transects and found many regions differentiated between highland (~ 1200 m) and lowland (~ 200 m) populations. We show repeated genetic differentiation across replicate populations within species, including allopatric comparisons. In contrast, there is little molecular parallelism between the two species. By sampling five close relatives, we find that a large proportion of divergent regions identified within species have arisen from standing variation and putative adaptive introgression from high-altitude specialist species. Taken together our study supports a role for both standing genetic variation and gene flow from independently adapted species in promoting parallel local adaptation to the environment.</jats:p>


Funder: EC | EC Seventh Framework Programm | FP7 Ideas: European Research Council (FP7-IDEAS-ERC - Specific Programme: ‘Ideas’ Implementing the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities (2007 to 2013)); doi:; Grant(s): 339873, 639096


Article, /631/181/457, /631/181/2474, /631/208/457/649, /631/208/182, /45/23, article

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Nature Communications

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
RCUK | Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) (NE/L002507/1, NE/R010331/1, NE/K008498/1, NE/N014936/1)
Universidad del Rosario (University of Rosario) (FGD005/ IV-FGI006)