Sparrows and supergenes: Ecological epigenetics in action.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Despite the promise of ecological epigenetics, there remain few cases that clearly link epigenetic variation in wild animal populations to evolutionary change. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Sun et al. provide such an example in white-throated sparrows-a fascinating system in which a large chromosomal rearrangement generates a "supergene" polymorphism linked to plumage colour, aggression and parenting behaviour. By combining whole genome bisulphite sequencing with RNA-sequencing and chromatin accessibility data, they show that the two alleles of this chromosomal polymorphism also exhibit substantial differences in DNA methylation levels, with implications for gene expression and transposable element activity. Their results provide a compelling case study for how genetic and epigenetic evolution proceed in concert. They also demonstrate the importance of integrating multiple types of genomic information to understand how gene regulation evolves, providing a model for future work in nonmodel species.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Anderson, JA; Tung, J

Published Date

  • July 12, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 30 / 14

Start / End Page

  • 3391 - 3393

PubMed ID

  • 34145673

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1365-294X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0962-1083

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/mec.16028


  • eng