Extensive standing genetic variation from a small number of founders enables rapid adaptation in Daphnia

Anurag Chaturvedi, Jiarui Zhou, Joost A. M. Raeymaekers, Luisa Orsini, Till Czypionka, Craig E. Jackson, Katina I Spanier, Joseph R Shaw, John Colbourne, Luc De Meester

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We lack a thorough understanding of the origin and maintenance of standing genetic variation that enables rapid evolutionary responses of natural populations. Whole genome sequencing of a resurrected Daphnia population shows that standing genetic variation in over 500 genes follows an evolutionary trajectory that parallels the pronounced and rapid adaptive evolution of multiple traits in response to predator-driven natural selection and its subsequent relaxation. Genetic variation carried by only five founding individuals from the regional genotype pool is shown to suffice at enabling the observed evolution. Our results provide insight on how natural populations can acquire the genomic variation, through colonization by a few regional genotypes, that fuels rapid evolution in response to strong selection pressures. While these evolutionary responses in our study population involved hundreds of genes, we observed no evidence of genetic erosion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4306
Number of pages1
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge financial support from KU Leuven Research Fund projects PF/2010/07 and C16/2017/002, from FWO projects G.0468.10, G.0614.11, G0B9818, and G0C3818, and from NERC project NE/N016777/1. KIS was supported by a PhD fellowship of the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT) and TC was supported by a DFG Research Fellowship (CZ 230 1/1). We thank Edson Sandoval-Castellanos for providing source code of the TAFT software and the Daphnia Genomics Consortium, including Don Gilbert (Indiana University) for its collective efforts to assemble and annotate the D. magna genome.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Adaptation, Physiological/genetics
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Daphnia/genetics
  • Founder Effect
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population
  • Genome/genetics
  • Genotype
  • Phenotype
  • Selection, Genetic


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