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Genetics of Climate Change Adaptation

1 , 2

Annual Review of Genetics

Annual Reviews

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      Abstract

      The rapid rate of current global climate change is having strong effects on many species and, at least in some cases, is driving evolution, particularly when changes in conditions alter patterns of selection. Climate change thus provides an opportunity for the study of the genetic basis of adaptation. Such studies include a variety of observational and experimental approaches, such as sampling across clines, artificial evolution experiments, and resurrection studies. These approaches can be combined with a number of techniques in genetics and genomics, including association and mapping analyses, genome scans, and transcription profiling. Recent research has revealed a number of candidate genes potentially involved in climate change adaptation and has also illustrated that genetic regulatory networks and epigenetic effects may be particularly relevant for evolution driven by climate change. Although genetic and genomic data are rapidly accumulating, we still have much to learn about the genetic architecture of climate change adaptation.

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      A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems.

      Causal attribution of recent biological trends to climate change is complicated because non-climatic influences dominate local, short-term biological changes. Any underlying signal from climate change is likely to be revealed by analyses that seek systematic trends across diverse species and geographic regions; however, debates within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveal several definitions of a 'systematic trend'. Here, we explore these differences, apply diverse analyses to more than 1,700 species, and show that recent biological trends match climate change predictions. Global meta-analyses documented significant range shifts averaging 6.1 km per decade towards the poles (or metres per decade upward), and significant mean advancement of spring events by 2.3 days per decade. We define a diagnostic fingerprint of temporal and spatial 'sign-switching' responses uniquely predicted by twentieth century climate trends. Among appropriate long-term/large-scale/multi-species data sets, this diagnostic fingerprint was found for 279 species. This suite of analyses generates 'very high confidence' (as laid down by the IPCC) that climate change is already affecting living systems.
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        Adaptive protein evolution at the Adh locus in Drosophila.

        Proteins often differ in amino-acid sequence across species. This difference has evolved by the accumulation of neutral mutations by random drift, the fixation of adaptive mutations by selection, or a mixture of the two. Here we propose a simple statistical test of the neutral protein evolution hypothesis based on a comparison of the number of amino-acid replacement substitutions to synonymous substitutions in the coding region of a locus. If the observed substitutions are neutral, the ratio of replacement to synonymous fixed differences between species should be the same as the ratio of replacement to synonymous polymorphisms within species. DNA sequence data on the Adh locus (encoding alcohol dehydrogenase, EC 1.1.1.1) in three species in the Drosophila melanogaster species subgroup do not fit this expectation; instead, there are more fixed replacement differences between species than expected. We suggest that these excess replacement substitutions result from adaptive fixation of selectively advantageous mutations.
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          Climate change and evolutionary adaptation.

          Evolutionary adaptation can be rapid and potentially help species counter stressful conditions or realize ecological opportunities arising from climate change. The challenges are to understand when evolution will occur and to identify potential evolutionary winners as well as losers, such as species lacking adaptive capacity living near physiological limits. Evolutionary processes also need to be incorporated into management programmes designed to minimize biodiversity loss under rapid climate change. These challenges can be met through realistic models of evolutionary change linked to experimental data across a range of taxa.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Biological Sciences, Fordham University, Bronx, New York 10458; email:
            [2 ]Department of Genetics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010 Australia; email:
            Journal
            Annual Review of Genetics
            Annu. Rev. Genet.
            Annual Reviews
            0066-4197
            1545-2948
            December 15 2012
            December 15 2012
            : 46
            : 1
            : 185-208
            10.1146/annurev-genet-110711-155511
            © 2012

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