Integrating evolutionary and functional approaches to infer adaptation at specific loci
Jay Storz and Christohper W. Wheat
Evolution, 64: 2489-2509 (please download from Publications page)
Inferences about adaptation at speciﬁc loci are often exclusively based on the static analysis of DNA sequence variation. Ideally, population-genetic evidence for positive selection serves as a stepping-off point for experimental studies to elucidate the functional signiﬁcance of the putatively adaptive variation. We argue that inferences about adaptation at speciﬁc loci are best achieved by integrating the indirect, retrospective insights provided by population-genetic analyses with the more direct, mechanistic insights provided by functional experiments. Integrative studies of adaptive genetic variation may sometimes be motivated by experimental insights into molecular function, which then provide the impetus to perform population genetic tests to evaluate whether the functional variation is of adaptive signiﬁcance. In other cases, studies may be initiated by genome scans of DNA variation to identify candidate loci for recent adaptation. Results of such analyses can then motivate experimental efforts to test whether the identiﬁed candidate loci do in fact contribute to functional variation in some ﬁtness-related phenotype. Functional studies can provide corroborative evidence for positive selection at particular loci, and can potentially reveal speciﬁc molecular mechanisms of adaptation.