Association ofMc1rvariants with ecologically relevant phenotypes in the European ocellated lizard,Lacerta lepida


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Abstract

A comprehensive knowledge on the genetic basis of coloration is crucial to understand how new colour phenotypes arise and how they contribute to the emergence of new species. Variation in melanocortin-1 receptor (Mc1r), a gene that has been reported as a target for repeated evolution in a wide range of vertebrate taxa, was assessed in European ocellated lizards (Lacerta lepida) to search for associations with melanin-based colour phenotypes. Lacerta lepida subspecies' distribution is associated with the three major bio-climatic regions in the Iberian Peninsula. A nonconserved and derived substitution (T162I) was associated with the L. l. nevadensis phenotype (prevalence of brown scales). Another substitution (S172C) was associated with the presence of black scales in both L. l. lepida and L. l. iberica, but no mutations were found to be associated with the higher proportion of black in L. l. iberica. Extensive genotyping of Mc1r along the contact zone between L. l. nevadensis and L. l. lepida revealed low gene flow (only two hybrids detected). The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of previous knowledge about the evolutionary history of ocellated lizards.

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