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Extensive introgression and mosaic genomes of Mediterranean endemic lizards


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Yang, W, Feiner, N, Pinho, C, While, GM ORCID: 0000-0001-8122-9322, Kaliontzopoulou, A, Harris, DJ, Salvi, D and Uller, T 2021 , 'Extensive introgression and mosaic genomes of Mediterranean endemic lizards' , Nature Communications, vol. 12, no. 1 , pp. 1-8 , doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22949-9.

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The Mediterranean basin is a hotspot of biodiversity, fuelled by climatic oscillation and geological change over the past 20 million years. Wall lizards of the genus Podarcis are among the most abundant, diverse, and conspicuous Mediterranean fauna. Here, we unravel the remarkably entangled evolutionary history of wall lizards by sequencing genomes of 34 major lineages covering 26 species. We demonstrate an early (>11 MYA) separation into two clades centred on the Iberian and Balkan Peninsulas, and two clades of Mediterranean island endemics. Diversification within these clades was pronounced between 6.5-4.0 MYA, a period spanning the Messinian Salinity Crisis, during which the Mediterranean Sea nearly dried up before rapidly refilling. However, genetic exchange between lineages has been a pervasive feature throughout the entire history of wall lizards. This has resulted in a highly reticulated pattern of evolution across the group, characterised by mosaic genomes with major contributions from two or more parental taxa. These hybrid lineages gave rise to several of the extant species that are endemic to Mediterranean islands. The mosaic genomes of island endemics may have promoted their extraordinary adaptability and striking diversity in body size, shape and colouration, which have puzzled biologists for centuries.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Yang, W and Feiner, N and Pinho, C and While, GM and Kaliontzopoulou, A and Harris, DJ and Salvi, D and Uller, T
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Communications
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2041-1723
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/s41467-021-22949-9
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© 2021. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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