Stick to the Bush

Can the underlying genetic changes driving the divergence of populations into new species be predicted or repeated? Soria-Carrasco et al. (p. 738) investigated the genetic changes observed after one generation when stick insect (Timema cristinae) populations were transplanted from their preferred host plants to alternative hosts. Diverged genetic regions were relatively small, with most loci showing divergence in a single population pair. However, the number of loci showing parallel divergence was greater than expected by chance. Thus, selection can drive parallel phenotypic evolution via parallel genetic changes.


Natural selection can drive the repeated evolution of reproductive isolation, but the genomic basis of parallel speciation remains poorly understood. We analyzed whole-genome divergence between replicate pairs of stick insect populations that are adapted to different host plants and undergoing parallel speciation. We found thousands of modest-sized genomic regions of accentuated divergence between populations, most of which are unique to individual population pairs. We also detected parallel genomic divergence across population pairs involving an excess of coding genes with specific molecular functions. Regions of parallel genomic divergence in nature exhibited exceptional allele frequency changes between hosts in a field transplant experiment. The results advance understanding of biological diversification by providing convergent observational and experimental evidence for selection’s role in driving repeatable genomic divergence.

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Supplementary Material


Materials and Methods
Supplementary Text
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Tables S1 to S6
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Published In

Volume 344 | Issue 6185
16 May 2014

Submission history

Received: 12 February 2014
Accepted: 18 April 2014
Published in print: 16 May 2014


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The work was funded by the European Research Council (grant R/129639) and Utah State University start-up funds. We thank J. Slate, A. Beckerman, D. Schluter, and two anonymous reviewers for constructive feedback and the High-Throughput Genomics Group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (funded by Wellcome Trust grant reference 090532/Z/09/Z and Medical Research Council Hub grant G0900747 91070) for generation of the sequencing data. O. Simakov and A. Kapusta provided scripts for transposable elements annotation. The data reported in this paper are tabulated in the supplementary materials and archived at the following databases. The raw sequencing reads are in the NCBI short read archive (BioProject ID: PRJNA243533), and the whole genome assembly and annotation at Additional data and computer source code have been deposited in the Dryad repository,, and are also available from the authors upon request. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.



Víctor Soria-Carrasco*
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.
Zachariah Gompert*
Department of Biology, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA.
Aaron A. Comeault
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.
Timothy E. Farkas
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.
Thomas L. Parchman
Deparment of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA.
J. Spencer Johnston
Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA.
C. Alex Buerkle
Department of Botany, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA.
Jeffrey L. Feder
Department of Biology, Notre Dame University, South Bend, IN 46556, USA.
Jens Bast
J. F. Blumenbach Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, University of Göttingen, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.
Tanja Schwander
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne CH-1015, Switzerland.
Scott P. Egan
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA.
Bernard J. Crespi
Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada.
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.


These authors contributed equally to this work.
Corresponding author. E-mail: [email protected]

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