Research10.05.2018

First continent-wide study of genetic variation in European fruit flies


A new study entitled "Genomic analysis of European Drosophila melanogaster populations on a dense spatial scale reveals longitudinal population structure and continent-wide selection", and involving researchers from the Department of Biology at the University of Fribourg, has been made publicily available o the bioRxiv preprint server. 

Genetic variation is the raw material of evolutionary change analyzing evolutionary dynamics in natural populations is challenging, whole genome sequencing of entire populations remains costly and comprehensive sampling logistically difficult. To adress this issue and to define relevant spatio-temporal scales of genetic variation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, an international group of evolutionary biologists have founded the European Drosophila Population Genomics Consortium (DrosEU)  in 2013. This consortium is led by Dr Josefa Gonzalez (Barcelona), Prof. Thomas Flatt and Dr Martin Kapun from the University of Fribourg. The current study represents the first analysis of the genome data collected by DrosEU.

Massive "grass-root" effort
The principal goal of DrosEU is to use the strengths of a large collaborative consortium (132 members from 56 labs and 28 countries) to extensively sample and sequence natural populations on a continent-wide scale and across distinct timescales. In the present study, the consortium presents the first analysis of their pool-sequencing data, consisting of 48 population samples collected from 32 geographical locations across the European continent in 2014. Analysis of this comprehensive dataset uncovers novel patterns of variation at multiple levels: for example, pronounced -previously unknown- genetic differences between western and eastern populations, evidence for continent-wide patterns of adaptation as well as the discovery of new Drosophila DNA viruses.

A better knowledge of the Drosophila Melanogaster
The DrosEU study showcases how extensive sampling and pooled sequencing of a large number of natural populations on a continent-wide scale can reveal new and fundamental aspects of the population biology of a well-studied model organism.


The manuscript is available on the bioRxiv preprint server

Further information: DrosEU or thomas.flatt@unifr.ch