Dissecting the role of a large chromosomal inversion in life history divergence throughout the Mimulus guttatus species complex.
Chromosomal inversions can play an important role in adaptation, but the mechanism of their action in many natural populations remains unclear. An inversion could suppress recombination between locally beneficial alleles, thereby preventing maladaptive reshuffling with less-fit, migrant alleles. The recombination suppression hypothesis has gained much theoretical support but empirical tests are lacking. Here, we evaluated the evolutionary history and phenotypic effects of a chromosomal inversion which differentiates annual and perennial forms of Mimulus guttatus. We found that perennials likely possess the derived orientation of the inversion. In addition, this perennial orientation occurs in a second perennial species, M. decorus, where it is strongly associated with life history differences between co-occurring M. decorus and annual M. guttatus. One prediction of the recombination suppression hypothesis is that loci contributing to local adaptation will predate the inversion. To test whether the loci influencing perenniality pre-date this inversion, we mapped QTLs for life history traits that differ between annual M. guttatus and a more distantly related, collinear perennial species, M. tilingii. Consistent with the recombination suppression hypothesis, we found that this region is associated with life history in the absence of the inversion, and this association can be broken into at least two QTLs. However, the absolute phenotypic effect of the LG8 inversion region on life history is weaker in M. tilingii than in perennials which possess the inversion. Thus, while we find support for the recombination suppression hypothesis, the contribution of this inversion to life history divergence in this group is likely complex.
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