September 22, 2019  |  

Repeated inversions within a pannier intron drive diversification of intraspecific colour patterns of ladybird beetles.

Authors: Ando, Toshiya and Matsuda, Takeshi and Goto, Kumiko and Hara, Kimiko and Ito, Akinori and Hirata, Junya and Yatomi, Joichiro and Kajitani, Rei and Okuno, Miki and Yamaguchi, Katsushi and Kobayashi, Masaaki and Takano, Tomoyuki and Minakuchi, Yohei and Seki, Masahide and Suzuki, Yutaka and Yano, Kentaro and Itoh, Takehiko and Shigenobu, Shuji and Toyoda, Atsushi and Niimi, Teruyuki

How genetic information is modified to generate phenotypic variation within a species is one of the central questions in evolutionary biology. Here we focus on the striking intraspecific diversity of >200 aposematic elytral (forewing) colour patterns of the multicoloured Asian ladybird beetle, Harmonia axyridis, which is regulated by a tightly linked genetic locus h. Our loss-of-function analyses, genetic association studies, de novo genome assemblies, and gene expression data reveal that the GATA transcription factor gene pannier is the major regulatory gene located at the h locus, and suggest that repeated inversions and cis-regulatory modifications at pannier led to the expansion of colour pattern variation in H. axyridis. Moreover, we show that the colour-patterning function of pannier is conserved in the seven-spotted ladybird beetle, Coccinella septempunctata, suggesting that H. axyridis' extraordinary intraspecific variation may have arisen from ancient modifications in conserved elytral colour-patterning mechanisms in ladybird beetles.

Journal: Nature communications
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06116-1
Year: 2018

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