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Genetic variation, environment and demography intersect to shape Arabidopsis defense metabolite variation across Europe.

  • Author(s): Katz, Ella
  • Li, Jia-Jie
  • Jaegle, Benjamin
  • Ashkenazy, Haim
  • Abrahams, Shawn R
  • Bagaza, Clement
  • Holden, Samuel
  • Pires, Chris J
  • Angelovici, Ruthie
  • Kliebenstein, Daniel J
  • et al.

Plants produce diverse metabolites to cope with the challenges presented by complex and ever-changing environments. These challenges drive the diversification of specialized metabolites within and between plant species. However, we are just beginning to understand how frequently new alleles arise controlling specialized metabolite diversity and how the geographic distribution of these alleles may be structured by ecological and demographic pressures. Here, we measure the variation in specialized metabolites across a population of 797 natural Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. We show that a combination of geography, environmental parameters, demography and different genetic processes all combine to influence the specific chemotypes and their distribution. This showed that causal loci in specialized metabolism contain frequent independently generated alleles with patterns suggesting potential within-species convergence. This provides a new perspective about the complexity of the selective forces and mechanisms that shape the generation and distribution of allelic variation that may influence local adaptation.

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