Untangling the hybrid nature of modern pig genomes: a mosaic derived from biogeographically distinct and highly divergent Sus scrofa populations
This tuesday, we'll discuss genome resequencing and hybrid origin of pig populations, as recently reported by Bosse et al. (2014) in Molecular Ecology, Bosse et al. (2014) in Nature Communications, and Ramírez et al. (2014) in Heredity. We'll focus on the Molecular Ecology paper, but try to provide a brief summary of the other two studies as well.
Abstract: The merging of populations after an extended period of isolation and divergence is a common phenomenon, in natural settings as well as due to human interference. Individuals with such hybrid origins contain genomes that essentially form a mosaic of different histories and demographies. Pigs are an excellent model species to study hybridization because European and Asian wild boars diverged ~1.2 Mya, and pigs were domesticated independently in Europe and Asia. During the Industrial Revolution in England, pigs were imported from China to improve the local pigs. This study utilizes the latest genomics tools to identify the origin of haplotypes in European domesticated pigs that are descendant from Asian and European populations. Our results reveal fine-scale haplotype structure representing different ancient demographic events, as well as a mosaic composition of those distinct histories due to recently introgressed haplotypes in the pig genome. As a consequence, nucleotide diversity in the genome of European domesticated pigs is higher when at least one haplotype of Asian origin is present, and haplotype length correlates negatively with recombination frequency and nucleotide diversity. Another consequence is that the inference of past effective population size is influenced by the background of the haplotypes in an individual, but we demonstrate that by careful sorting based on the origin of haplotypes, both distinct demographic histories can be reconstructed. Future detailed mapping of the genomic distribution of variation will enable a targeted approach to increase genetic diversity of captive and wild populations, thus facilitating conservation efforts in the near future.