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How could fully scaled carps appear in natural waters in Madagascar ? [Proceedings of the Royal Society B]

Keywords : evolution, mutation, compensation, heritability

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

The capacity of organisms to rapidly evolve in response to environmental changes is a key feature of evolution, and studying mutation compensation is a way to evaluate whether alternative routes of evolution are possible or not. Common carps (Cyprinus carpio) carrying a homozygous loss-of-function mutation for the scale cover gene fgfr1a1, causing the ‘mirror’ reduced scale cover, were introduced in Madagascar a century ago. Here we show that carps in Malagasy natural waters are now predominantly covered with scales, though they still all carry the homozygous mutation. We also reveal that the number of scales in mutated carps is under strong polygenic genetic control, with a heritability of 0.49. As a whole, our results suggest that carps submitted to natural selection could evolve a wild-type-like scale cover in less than 40 generations from standing polygenic genetic variation, confirming similar findings mainly retrieved from model organisms.

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