A multilocus assay reveals high nucleotide diversity and limited differentiation among Scandinavian willow grouse (Lagopus lagopus)
1 Department of Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18 D, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
2 Department of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics, Swedish Agricultural University, Ulls väg 24 E, 756 51 Uppsala, Sweden
3 Department of Population Biology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18 D, 752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
BMC Genetics 2008, 9:89 doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-89Published: 19 December 2008
There is so far very little data on autosomal nucleotide diversity in birds, except for data from the domesticated chicken and some passerines species. Estimates of nucleotide diversity reported so far in birds have been high (~10-3) and a likely explanation for this is the generally higher effective population sizes compared to mammals. In this study, the level of nucleotide diversity has been examined in the willow grouse, a non-domesticated bird species from the order Galliformes, which also holds the chicken. The willow grouse (Lagopus lagopus) has an almost circumpolar distribution but is absent from Greenland and the north Atlantic islands. It primarily inhabits tundra, forest edge habitats and sub-alpine vegetation. Willow grouse are hunted throughout its range, and regionally it is a game bird of great cultural and economical importance.
We sequenced 18 autosomal protein coding loci from approximately 15–18 individuals per population. We found a total of 127 SNP's, which corresponds to 1 SNP every 51 bp. 26 SNP's were amino acid replacement substitutions. Total nucleotide diversity (πt) was between 1.30 × 10-4 and 7.66 × 10-3 (average πt = 2.72 × 10-3 ± 2.06 × 10-3) and silent nucleotide diversity varied between 4.20 × 10-4and 2.76 × 10-2 (average πS = 9.22 × 10-3 ± 7.43 × 10-4). The synonymous diversity is approximately 20 times higher than in humans and two times higher than in chicken. Non-synonymous diversity was on average 18 times lower than the synonymous diversity and varied between 0 and 4.90 × 10-3 (average πa = 5.08 × 10-4 ± 7.43 × 103), which suggest that purifying selection is strong in these genes. FST values based on synonymous SNP's varied between -5.60 × 10-4 and 0.20 among loci and revealed low levels of differentiation among the four localities, with an overall value of FST = 0.03 (95% CI: 0.006 – 0.057) over 60 unlinked loci. Non-synonymous SNP's gave similar results. Low levels of linkage disequilibrium were observed within genes, with an average r2 = 0.084 ± 0.110, which is expected for a large outbred population with no population differentiation. The mean per site per generation recombination parameter (ρ) was comparably high (0.028 ± 0.018), indicating high recombination rates in these genes.
We found unusually high levels of nucleotide diversity in the Scandinavian willow grouse as well as very little population structure among localities with up to 1647 km distance. There are also low levels of linkage disequilibrium within the genes and the population recombination rate is high, which is indicative of an old panmictic population, where recombination has had time to break up any haplotype blocks. The non-synonymous nucleotide diversity is low compared with the silent, which is in agreement with effective purifying selection, possibly due to the large effective population size.