Genome-Wide Regulatory Interactions in the Early Stages of Drosophila Speciation
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Go, Alwyn Clark
Go, Alwyn Clark. Genome-Wide Regulatory Interactions in the Early Stages of Drosophila Speciation; A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies of The University of Winnipeg In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, Bioscience, Technology, and Public Policy, Department of Biology. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: University of Winnipeg, 2020. DOI: 10.36939/ir.202012151547.
Speciation occurs when reproductive barriers prevent the exchange of genetic information between individuals. A common form of reproductive barrier between species capable of interbreeding is hybrid sterility. Genomic incompatibilities between the divergent genomes of different species contribute to a reduction in hybrid fitness. These incompatibilities continue to accumulate after speciation, therefore, young divergent taxa with incomplete reproductive isolation are important in understating the genetics leading to speciation. Here, I use two Drosophila subspecies pairs. The first is D. willistoni consisting of D. w. willistoni and D. w. winge. The second subspecies pair is D. pseudoobscura, which is composed of D. p. pseudoobscura and D. p. bogotana. Both subspecies pairs are at the early stages of speciation and show incomplete reproductive isolation through unidirectional hybrid male sterility. In this thesis, I performed an exploratory survey of genome-wide expression analysis using RNA-sequencing on D. willistoni and determined the extent of regulatory divergence between the subspecies using allele-specific expression analysis. I found that misexpressed genes showed a degree of tissue specificity and that the sterile male hybrids had a higher proportion of misexpressed genes in the testes relative to the fertile hybrids. The analysis of regulatory divergence between this subspecies pair found a large (66-70%) proportion of genes with conserved regulatory elements. Of the genes showing evidence or regulatory divergence between subspecies, cis-regulatory divergence was more common than other types. In the D. pseudoobscura subspecies pair, I compared sequence and expression divergence and found no support for directional selection driving gene misexpression in their hybrids. Allele-specific expression analysis revealed that compensatory cis-trans mutations partly explained gene misexpression in the hybrids. The remaining hybrid misexpression occurs due to interacting gene networks or possible co-option of cis-regulatory elements by divergent transacting factors. Overall, the results of this thesis highlight the role of regulatory interactions in a hybrid genome and how these interactions could lead to hybrid breakdown by disrupting gene interaction networks.