Genome-wide variation and transcriptional changes in diverse developmental processes underlie the rapid evolution of seasonal adaptation

Edwina J. Dowle, Thomas H.Q. Powell, Meredith M. Doellman, Peter J. Meyers, McCall B. Calvert, Kimberly K.O. Walden, Hugh M. Robertson, Stewart H. Berlocher, Jeffrey L. Feder, Daniel A. Hahn, Gregory J. Ragland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many organisms enter a dormant state in their life cycle to deal with predictable changes in environments over the course of a year. The timing of dormancy is therefore a key seasonal adaptation, and it evolves rapidly with changing environments. We tested the hypothesis that differences in the timing of seasonal activity are driven by differences in the rate of development during diapause in Rhagoletis pomonella, a fly specialized to feed on fruits of seasonally limited host plants. Transcriptomes from the central nervous system across a time series during diapause show consistent and progressive changes in transcripts participating in diverse developmental processes, despite a lack of gross morphological change. Moreover, population genomic analyses suggested that many genes of small effect enriched in developmental functional categories underlie variation in dormancy timing and overlap with gene sets associated with development rate in Drosophila melanogaster. Our transcriptional data also suggested that a recent evolutionary shift from a seasonally late to a seasonally early host plant drovemore rapid development during diapause in the early fly population. Moreover, genetic variants that diverged during the evolutionary shift were also enriched in putative cis regulatory regions of genes differentially expressed during diapause development. Overall, our data suggest polygenic variation in the rate of developmental progression during diapause contributes to the evolution of seasonality in R. pomonella. We further discuss patterns that suggest hourglass-like developmental divergence early and late in diapause development and an important role for hub genes in the evolution of transcriptional divergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23960-23969
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 22 2020


  • Adaptation
  • Development
  • Diapause
  • Ecological genomics
  • Phenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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