Journal article

Multiscale landscape genomic models to detect signatures of selection in the alpine plant

Plant species are known to adapt locally to their environment, particularly in mountainous areas where conditions can vary drastically over short distances. The climate of such landscapes being largely influenced by topography, using fine-scale models to evaluate environmental heterogeneity may help detecting adaptation to micro-habitats. Here, we applied a multiscale landscape genomic approach to detect evidence of local adaptation in the alpine plant Biscutella laevigata. The two gene pools identified, experiencing limited gene flow along a 1-km ridge, were different in regard to several habitat features derived from a very high resolution (VHR) digital elevation model (DEM). A correlative approach detected signatures of selection along environmental gradients such as altitude, wind exposure, and solar radiation, indicating adaptive pressures likely driven by fine-scale topography. Using a large panel of DEM-derived variables as ecologically relevant proxies, our results highlighted the critical role of spatial resolution. These high-resolution multiscale variables indeed indicate that the robustness of associations between genetic loci and environmental features depends on spatial parameters that are poorly documented. We argue that the scale issue is critical in landscape genomics and that multiscale ecological variables are key to improve our understanding of local adaptation in highly heterogeneous landscapes.

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