On the post-glacial spread of human commensal Arabidopsis thaliana

Recent work has shown that Arabidopsis thaliana contains genetic groups originating from different ice age refugia, with one particular group comprising over 95% of the current worldwide population. In Europe, relicts of other groups can be found in local populations along the Mediterranean Sea. Here we provide evidence that these 'relicts' occupied post-glacial Eurasia first and were later replaced by the invading 'non-relicts', which expanded through the east?west axis of Eurasia, leaving traces of admixture in the north and south of the species range. The non-relict expansion was likely associated with human activity and led to a demographic replacement similar to what occurred in humans. Introgressed genomic regions from relicts are associated with flowering time and enriched for genes associated with environmental conditions, such as root cap development or metal ion trans-membrane transport, which suggest that admixture with locally adapted relicts helped the non-relicts colonize new habitats.

Lee, C.R., Svardal, H., Farlow, A., Exposito-Alonso, M., Ding, D.J., Novikova, P.Y., Alonso-Blanco, C., Weigel, D., Nordborg, M. (2017) On the post-glacial spread of human commensal Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature Comm. 8:14458.

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