Repeated inversions at the pannier intron drive diversification of intraspecific colour patterns of ladybird beetles

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

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Jul 25, 2018
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Received: 9th June 18

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 more than 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 intra-specific variation may have arisen from ancient modifications in a conserved elytral colour patterning mechanisms in ladybird beetles.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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Nature Communications

Nature Research, Springer Nature

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