Abstracts (first author)
Speciation genomics in the European crow: a magic hybrid zone where sexual selection and few major effect loci may promote speciation
Plumage colour differences within and between species are characteristic of many organisms and are particularly conspicuous in birds. The evolution of such colour polymorphisms, their contribution to prezygotic isolation and their general role in speciation has been a central theme in the evolutionary sciences. The hybrid zone between carrion and hooded crows (Corvus [c.] corone and C. [c.] cornix) is a prime example. The zone appears to have been maintained by strong assortative mating mediated by plumage colour for at least a century. The discrete segregation in colouration strongly contrasts with a surprising lack of genetic differentiation. Here, we aim at identifying the genetic basis of this colour polymorphism and assess its role in the speciation process. To achieve this goal, we generated an annotated draft reference sequence of one Hooded crow individual which we then used a backbone for population genomic analyses. We further conducted an extensive (RNAseq) gene expression experiment under common garden conditions focusing on differential gene expression of genes expressed in active feather follicles. The combination of the population genomic data and detailed information from the gene expression experiment provides a powerful approach to identify the genetic cause of colouration differences and its consequence for local genomic divergence between this pair of incipient species.