Diapause is a feature of the life cycle of many invertebrates by which unfavourable environmental conditions can be outlived. The seasonal timing of diapause allows organisms to adapt to seasonal changes in habitat suitability and thus is key to their fitness. In the planktonic crustacean Daphnia, various cues can induce the production of diapause stages that are resistant to heat, drought or freezing and contain one to two embryos in developmental arrest. Daphnia is a keystone species of many freshwater ecosystems, where it acts as the main link between phytoplankton and higher trophic levels. The correct seasonal timing of diapause termination is essential to maintain trophic interactions and is achieved via a genetically based interpretation of environmental cues like photoperiod and temperature. Field monitoring and modelling studies raised concerns on whether populations can advance their seasonal release from diapause to advances in spring phenology under global change, or if a failure to adapt will cause trophic mismatches negatively affecting ecosystem functioning. Our capacity to understand and predict the evolution of diapause timing requires information about the genetic architecture underlying this trait. In this study, we identified eight quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and four epistatic interactions that together explained 66.5% of the variation in diapause termination in Daphnia magna using QTL mapping. Our results suggest that the most significant QTL is modulating diapause termination dependent on photoperiod and is involved in three of the four detected epistatic interactions. Candidate genes at this QTL could be identified through the integration with genome data and included the presynaptic active zone protein bruchpilot. Our findings contribute to understanding the genomic control of seasonal diapause timing in an ecological relevant species. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Journal: Molecular ecology