A cosmopolitan inversion facilitates seasonal adaptation in overwintering Drosophila




Fluctuations in the strength and direction of natural selection through time are a ubiquitous feature of life on Earth. One evolutionary outcome of such fluctuations is adaptive tracking, wherein populations rapidly adapt from standing genetic variation. In certain circumstances, adaptive tracking can lead to the long-term maintenance of functional polymorphism despite allele frequency change due to selection. Although adaptive tracking is likely a common process, we still have a limited understanding of aspects of its genetic architecture and its strength relative to other evolutionary forces such as drift. Drosophila melanogaster living in temperate regions evolve to track seasonal fluctuations and are an excellent system to tackle these gaps in knowledge. By sequencing orchard populations collected across multiple years, we characterized the genomic signal of seasonal demography and identified that the cosmopolitan inversion In(2L)t facilitates seasonal adaptive tracking and shows molecular footprints of selection. A meta-analysis of phenotypic studies shows that seasonal loci within In(2L)t are associated with behavior, life history, physiology, and morphological traits. We identify candidate loci and experimentally link them to phenotype. Our work contributes to our general understanding of fluctuating selection and highlights the evolutionary outcome and dynamics of contemporary selection on inversions.

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