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Genome resequencing clarifies phylogeny and reveals patterns of selection in the toxicogenomics model Pimephales promelas

August 25, 2022


The fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) is a model species for toxicological research. A high-quality genome reference sequence is available, and genomic methods are increasingly used in toxicological studies of the species. However, phylogenetic relationships within the genus remain incompletely known and little population-genomic data are available for fathead minnow despite the potential effects of genetic background on toxicological responses. On the other hand, a wealth of extant samples is stored in museum collections that in principle allow fine-scale analysis of contemporary and historical genetic variation.


Here we use short-read shotgun resequencing to investigate sequence variation among and within Pimephales species. At the genus level, our objectives were to resolve phylogenetic relationships and identify genes with signatures of positive diversifying selection. At the species level, our objective was to evaluate the utility of archived-sample resequencing for detecting selective sweeps within fathead minnow, applied to a population introduced to the San Juan River of the southwestern United States sometime prior to 1950.


We recovered well-supported but discordant phylogenetic topologies for nuclear and mitochondrial sequences that we hypothesize arose from mitochondrial transfer among species. The nuclear tree supported bluntnose minnow (P. notatus) as sister to fathead minnow, with the slim minnow (P. tenellus) and bullhead minnow (P. vigilax) more closely related to each other. Using multiple methods, we identified 11 genes that have diversified under positive selection within the genus. Within the San Juan River population, we identified selective-sweep regions overlapping several sets of related genes, including both genes that encode the giant sarcomere protein titin and the two genes encoding the MTORC1 complex, a key metabolic regulator. We also observed elevated polymorphism and reduced differentation among populations (FST) in genomic regions containing certain immune-gene clusters, similar to what has been reported in other taxa. Collectively, our data clarify evolutionary relationships and selective pressures within the genus and establish museum archives as a fruitful resource for characterizing genomic variation. We anticipate that large-scale resequencing will enable the detection of genetic variants associated with environmental toxicants such as heavy metals, high salinity, estrogens, and agrichemicals, which could be exploited as efficient biomarkers of exposure in natural populations.

Publication Year 2022
Title Genome resequencing clarifies phylogeny and reveals patterns of selection in the toxicogenomics model Pimephales promelas
DOI 10.7717/peerj.13954
Authors Katy E. Klymus, Robert A. Hrabik, Nathan Thompson, Robert S. Cornman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title PeerJ
Index ID 70236031
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center; Fort Collins Science Center; Leetown Science Center