Uncovering the genetic basis of adaptive change: on the intersection of landscape genomics and theoretical population genetics
A workshop recently held at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland) was dedicated to understanding the genetic basis of adaptive change, taking stock of the different approaches developed in theoretical population genetics and landscape genomics, and bringing together knowledge accumulated in both research fields. Indeed, an important challenge in theoretical population genetics is to incorporate effects of demographic history and population structure. But important design problems (e.g. focus on populations as units, focus on hard selective sweeps, no hypothesis-based framework in the design of the statistical tests) reduce their capability of detecting adaptive genetic variation. In parallel, landscape genomics offers a solution to several of these problems and provides a number of advantages (e.g. fast computation, landscape heterogeneity integration). But the approach makes several implicit assumptions that should be carefully considered (e.g. selection has had enough time to create a functional relationship between the allele distribution and the environmental variable, or this functional relationship is assumed to be constant). To address the respective strengths and weaknesses mentioned above, the workshop brought together a panel of experts from both disciplines to present their work and discuss the relevance of combining these approaches, possibly resulting in a joint software solution in the future.