© 2016 Svetec et al. Despite decades of work, our understanding of the distribution of fitness effects of segregating genetic variants in natural populations remains largely incomplete. One form of selection that can maintain genetic variation is spatially varying selection, such as that leading to latitudinal clines. While the introduction of population genomic approaches to understanding spatially varying selection has generated much excitement, little successful effort has been devoted to moving beyond genome scans for selection to experimental analysis of the relevant biology and the development of experimentally motivated hypotheses regarding the agents of selection; it remains an interesting question as to whether the vast majority of population genomic work will lead to satisfying biological insights. Here, motivated by population genomic results, we investigate how spatially varying selection in the genetic model system, Drosophila melanogaster, has led to genetic differences between populations in several components of the DNA damage response. UVB incidence, which is negatively correlated with latitude, is an important agent of DNA damage. We show that sensitivity of early embryos to UVB exposure is strongly correlated with latitude such that low latitude populations show much lower sensitivity to UVB. We then show that lines with lower embryo UVB sensitivity also exhibit increased capacity for repair of damaged sperm DNA by the oocyte. A comparison of the early embryo transcriptome in high and low latitude embryos provides evidence that one mechanism of adaptive DNA repair differences between populations is the greater abundance of DNA repair transcripts in the eggs of low latitude females. Finally, we use population genomic comparisons of high and low latitude samples to reveal evidence that multiple components of the DNA damage response and both coding and non-coding variation likely contribute to adaptive differences in DNA repair between populations.
Svetec, N., Cridland, J. M., Zhao, L., & Begun, D. J. (2016). The Adaptive Significance of Natural Genetic Variation in the DNA Damage Response of Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS Genetics, 12(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1005869