Experimental evidence for ecological selection on genome variation in the wild



Understanding natural selection's effect on genetic variation is a major goal in biology, but the genome-scale consequences of contemporary selection are not well known. In a release and recapture field experiment we transplanted stick insects to native and novel host plants and directly measured allele frequency changes within a generation at 186 576 genetic loci. We observed substantial, genome-wide allele frequency changes during the experiment, most of which could be attributed to random mortality (genetic drift). However, we also documented that selection affected multiple genetic loci distributed across the genome, particularly in transplants to the novel host. Host-associated selection affecting the genome acted on both a known colour-pattern trait as well as other (unmeasured) phenotypes. We also found evidence that selection associated with elevation affected genome variation, although our experiment was not designed to test this. Our results illustrate how genomic data can identify previously underappreciated ecological sources and phenotypic targets of selection.