CONTRASTING PATTERNS OF SYNONYMOUS AND NONSYNONYMOUS SEQUENCE EVOLUTION IN ASEXUAL AND SEXUAL FRESHWATER SNAIL LINEAGES

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Abstract

In asexual lineages, both synonymous and nonsynonymous sequence polymorphism may be reduced due to severe founder effects when asexual lineages originate. However, mildly deleterious (nonsynonymous) mutations may accumulate after asexual lineages are formed, because the efficiency of purifying selection is reduced even in the nonrecombining mitochondrial genome. Here we examine patterns of synonymous and nonsynonymous mitochondrial sequence polymorphism in asexual and sexual lineages of the freshwater snail Campeloma. Using clade-specific estimates, we found that synonymous sequence polymorphism was significantly reduced by 75% in asexuals relative to sexuals, whereas nonsynonymous sequence polymorphism did not differ significantly between sexuals and asexuals. Two asexual clades had high negative values for Tajima's D statistic. Coalescent simulations confirmed that various bottleneck scenarios can account for this result. We also used branch-specific estimates of the ratio of amino acid to silent substitutions, Ka/Ks. Our study revealed that Ka/Ks ratios are six times higher in terminal branches of independent asexual lineages compared to sexuals. Coalescent-based reconstruction of gene networks for all sexual and asexual clades indicated that nonsynonymous mutations occurred at a higher frequency in recently derived asexual haplotypes. These findings suggest that patterns of synonymous and nonsynonymous nucleotide polymorphism in asexual snail lineages may be shaped by both severe founder effect and relaxed purifying selection.

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