|Gene flow drives genomic diversity in Asian Pikas distributed along the core and range‐edge habitats in the Himalayas [Next Gen Genomics Facility (INT)]
|Year of Publication
|Dahal N, Romine MG, Khatiwara S, Ramakrishnan U, Lamichhaney S
|gene flow, genetic diversity, Himalayas, pika
Studying the genetic variation among different species distributed across their core and range‐edge habitats can provide valuable insights into how genetic variation changes across the species' distribution range. This information can be important for understanding local adaptation, as well as for conservation and management efforts. In this study, we have carried out genomic characterization of six species of Asian Pikas distributed along their core and range‐edge habitats in the Himalayas. We utilized a population genomics approach using ~28,000 genome‐wide SNP markers obtained from restriction‐site associated DNA sequencing. We identified low nucleotide diversity and high inbreeding coefficients in all six species across their core and range‐edge habitats. We also identified evidence of gene flow among genetically diverse species. Our results provide evidence of reduced genetic diversity in Asian pikas distributed across the Himalayas and the neighboring regions and indicate that recurrent gene flow is possibly a key mechanism for maintaining genetic diversity and adaptive potential in these pikas. However, full‐scale genomics studies that utilize whole‐genome sequencing approaches will be needed to quantify the direction and timing of gene flow and functional changes associated with introgressed regions in the genome. Our results represent an important step toward understanding the patterns and consequences of gene flow in species, sampled at the least studied, yet climatically vulnerable part of their habitat that can be further used to inform conservation strategies that promote connectivity and gene flow between populations.