SELECTION ON OVERDOMINANT GENES MAINTAINS HETEROZYGOSITY ALONG MULTIPLE CHROMOSOMES IN A CLONAL LINEAGE OF HONEY BEE

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Abstract

Correlations between fitness and genome-wide heterozygosity (heterozygosity-fitness correlations, HFCs) have been reported across a wide range of taxa. The genetic basis of these correlations is controversial: do they arise from genome-wide inbreeding (“general effects”) or the “local effects” of overdominant loci acting in linkage disequilibrium with neutral loci? In an asexual thelytokous lineage of the Cape honey bee (Apis mellifera capensis), the effects of inbreeding have been homogenized across the population, making this an ideal system in which to detect overdominant loci, and to make inferences about the importance of overdominance on HFCs in general. Here we investigate the pattern of zygosity along two chromosomes in 42 workers from the clonal Cape honey bee population. On chromosome III (which contains the sex-locus, a gene that is homozygous-lethal) and chromosome IV we show that the pattern of zygosity is characterized by loss of heterozygosity in short regions followed by the telomeric restoration of heterozygosity. We infer that at least four selectively overdominant genes maintain heterozygosity on chromosome III and three on chromosome IV via local effects acting on neutral markers in linkage disequilibrium. We conclude that heterozygote advantage and local effects may be more common and evolutionarily significant than is generally appreciated.

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