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Recombination in Adaptive Evolution

Final Report Summary - EVOLRECOMBADAPT (Recombination in Adaptive Evolution)

Recombination is a fundamental biological process essential for the production of viable gametes and offspring, yet is poorly understood in naturally evolving populations. Researchers from the Jones Lab have developed and used cutting-edge genomic, molecular biology, and bioinformatic techniques to quantify how this highly constrained molecular process varies in naturally evolving stickleback fish adapting to different environmental conditions. The researchers studies paint a comprehensive picture of recombination variation with considerable differences between ecotypes and sexes, and reveal evidence of lower recombination in hybrids. They have identified molecular features associated with recombination crossovers and show that the genomic location of crossovers is shaped by early meiotic processes influencing DNA double-strand breaks. Their work supports evolutionary predictions that molecular mechanisms modifying recombination rate in natural populations may be favored by natural selection. In the course of this study the team have developed new methods for the broader research community – including a fast and cost-effective method for building precision genomic maps of recombination crossovers using new linked-read sequencing technology on gametes. Their work has implications for the fields of molecular genetics and evolution but has also resulted in technology transfer to the broader community spanning medicine, agriculture, and genomics.