[MARMAM] New paper on killer whale genomics

Andy Foote footead at gmail.com
Thu Aug 8 04:57:44 PDT 2019

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the publication of our new paper analysing a
global dataset of killer whales in the current issue of Molecular Ecology (
https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.15099) and is accompanied by a perspective
piece focusing on a key finding of archaic 'ghost' ancestry in the
Antarctic types (https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.15141).

To help non-geneticists follow the methods used and the interpretation of
results in this study, I've posted a walk through of the results (
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtfVBVFNDMM&t=11s). I will try and upload a
more polished and scripted version soon. And I hope to upload more overview
videos to this Footenotes channel and a website (footenotes.org) under

The abstract of the paper is pasted below.

- Andy Foote and coauthors

Killer whale genomes reveal a complex history of recurrent admixture and

Andrew D. Foote,  Michael D. Martin,  Marie Louis,  George Pacheco,  Kelly
M. Robertson,  Mikkel‐Holger S. Sinding,  Ana R. Amaral,  Robin W. Baird,
 Charles Scott Baker,  Lisa Ballance,  Jay Barlow,  Andrew Brownlow,  Tim
Collins,  Rochelle Constantine,  Willy Dabin,  Luciano Dalla Rosa,
 Nicholas J. Davison,  John W. Durban,  Ruth Esteban,  Steven H. Ferguson,
 Tim Gerrodette,  Christophe Guinet,  M. Bradley Hanson, Wayne Hoggard,
 Cory J. D. Matthews,  Filipa I. P. Samarra,  Renaud de Stephanis,  Sara B.
Tavares,  Paul Tixier,  John A. Totterdell,  Paul Wade,  Laurent Excoffier,
 M. Thomas P. Gilbert,  Jochen B. W. Wolf &  Phillip A. Morin

Reconstruction of the demographic and evolutionary history of populations
assuming a consensus tree‐like relationship can mask more complex
scenarios, which are prevalent in nature. An emerging genomic toolset,
which has been most comprehensively harnessed in the reconstruction of
human evolutionary history, enables molecular ecologists to elucidate
complex population histories. Killer whales have limited extrinsic barriers
to dispersal and have radiated globally, and are therefore a good candidate
model for the application of such tools. Here, we analyse a global data set
of killer whale genomes in a rare attempt to elucidate global population
structure in a nonhuman species. We identify a pattern of genetic
homogenisation at lower latitudes and the greatest differentiation at high
latitudes, even between currently sympatric lineages. The processes
underlying the major axis of structure include high drift at the edge of
species' range, likely associated with founder effects and allelic surfing
during postglacial range expansion. Divergence between Antarctic and
non‐Antarctic lineages is further driven by ancestry segments with up to
four‐fold older coalescence time than the genome‐wide average; relicts of a
previous vicariance during an earlier glacial cycle. Our study further
underpins that episodic gene flow is ubiquitous in natural populations, and
can occur across great distances and after substantial periods of isolation
between populations. Thus, understanding the evolutionary history of a
species requires comprehensive geographic sampling and genome‐wide data to
sample the variation in ancestry within individuals.
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