About this Research Topic
Evolutionary biologists are starting to exploit genomic tools, enabling them to finally address long-standing questions about the nature of adaptation and speciation. This approach has been made possible by the technological innovations, which have made it practicable and affordable to use full genome sequences or to re-sequence multiple targeted regions around the genome. These methods allow researchers to confidently design studies of natural populations of non-model organisms, which can now be selected for their biological importance rather than their tractability in the laboratory.
Because of these developments, the genomics of adaptation has become an exciting fast growing research area, in which scientists are trying to identify and understand the genomic signatures of adaptation in order to be able to read and interpret the imprint of natural selection in the genome. Ideas that have previously been the subject of theoretical speculation and modeling, can now be addressed with empirical data. These key issues include the number of genomic regions that are involved in the adaptive process, the frequency with which parallel adaptations make use of the same genomic regions recurrently, the distribution of phenotypic effects of segregating variants and new mutations, the nature of the modifications (regulatory, coding), the genes and metabolic networks involved, the types of interaction among loci and the environment-phenotype-genotype association. The understanding of the fundamental principles that explain the genetic basis of adaptation is, of course, particularly timely because of the importance of understanding the limits on the rate of adaptation in the context of the threat to biodiversity of global climate change.
The new opportunities opened up by the use of genomic approaches in non-model organisms extend into speciation-research – in particular the recent surge in interest in speciation-with-gene-flow and speciation driven by natural selection, which is challenging the more classical perspectives of geographic isolation. This research movement feeds on the unprecedented detail provided by genome–wide analysis of the changes associated with hybridization and introgression.
These experimental approaches set new challenges in the reporting and evaluation of research. In particular, there is a ferocious pace of development of new software and the systems on which it runs and, in addition, the protocols for sharing this type of Big Data are not universally established. These issues mean that the scientific gold standard – that results should be readily available to third parties and analyses should be repeatable – is often not met. In implementing this Topic Editors would provide rigorous scrutiny to ensure the availability of data and systems to allow its analysis by third parties.
This Research Topic aims to promote further developments in the growing area of genomics of adaptation and genomics of speciation. The Topic Editors are particularly interested in attracting contributions from researchers with original perspectives and innovative ways of analyzing genomic data.
Keywords: Genetics, Natural Selection, Bioinformatics, Species, Differentiation
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