Functional colour genes and signals of selection in colour polymorphic salamanders

Burgon, J. D. , Vieites, D. R., Jacobs, A. , Weidt, S. K., Gunter, H. M., Steinfartz, S., Burgess, K., Marble, B. K. and Elmer, K. R. (2020) Functional colour genes and signals of selection in colour polymorphic salamanders. Molecular Ecology, 29(7), pp. 1284-1299. (doi: 10.1111/mec.15411) (PMID:32159878)

211642.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



Colouration has been associated with multiple biologically relevant traits that drive adaptation and diversification in many taxa. However, despite the great diversity of colour patterns present in amphibians the underlying molecular basis is largely unknown. Here, we leverage insight from a highly colour‐variable lineage of the European fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra bernardezi) to identify functional associations with striking variation in colour morph and pattern. The three focal colour morphs—ancestral black‐yellow striped, fully yellow, and fully brown—differed in pattern, visible colouration, and cellular composition. From population genomic analyses of up to 4,702 loci, we found no correlations of neutral population genetic structure with colour morph. However we identified 21 loci with genotype‐phenotype associations, several of which relate to known colour genes. Further, we inferred response to selection at up to 142 loci between the colour morphs, again including several that relate to colouration genes. By transcriptomic analysis across all different combinations, we found 196 differentially expressed genes between yellow, brown, and black skin, 63 of which are candidate genes involved in animal colouration. The concordance across different statistical approaches and ‘omic datasets provide several lines of evidence for loci linked to functional differences between colour morphs, including TYR, CAMK1, and PMEL. We found little association between colour morph and the metabolomic profile of its toxic compounds from the skin secretions. Our research suggests that current ecological and evolutionary hypotheses for the origins and maintenance of these striking colour morphs may need to be revisited.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Weidt, Dr Stefan and Jacobs, Mr Arne and Elmer, Professor Kathryn and Burgess, Dr Karl and Burgon, James
Authors: Burgon, J. D., Vieites, D. R., Jacobs, A., Weidt, S. K., Gunter, H. M., Steinfartz, S., Burgess, K., Marble, B. K., and Elmer, K. R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Molecular Ecology
ISSN (Online):1365-294X
Published Online:11 March 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Molecular Ecology 29(7): 1284-1299
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5525/gla.researchdata.982

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record

Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190635NERC DTG 2013 - 2017Mary Beth KneafseyNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/L501918/1Research and Innovation Services
169855Colouration biodiversity within and across environments: an example from the adaptive radiation of fire salamandersKathryn ElmerThe Royal Society (ROYSOC)RG130800Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
172121Funding SchemesAnna DominiczakWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)105614/Z/14/ZInstitute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences