Replicated high-density genetic maps of two great tit populations reveal fine-scale genomic departures from sex-equal recombination rates.
van Oers K., Santure AW., De Cauwer I., van Bers NE., Crooijmans RP., Sheldon BC., Visser ME., Slate J., Groenen MA.
Linking variation in quantitative traits to variation in the genome is an important, but challenging task in the study of life-history evolution. Linkage maps provide a valuable tool for the unravelling of such trait-gene associations. Moreover, they give insight into recombination landscapes and between-species karyotype evolution. Here we used genotype data, generated from a 10k single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chip, of over 2000 individuals to produce high-density linkage maps of the great tit (Parus major), a passerine bird that serves as a model species for ecological and evolutionary questions. We created independent maps from two distinct populations: a captive F2-cross from The Netherlands (NL) and a wild population from the United Kingdom (UK). The two maps contained 6554 SNPs in 32 linkage groups, spanning 2010 cM and 1917 cM for the NL and UK populations, respectively, and were similar in size and marker order. Subtle levels of heterochiasmy within and between chromosomes were remarkably consistent between the populations, suggesting that the local departures from sex-equal recombination rates have evolved. This key and surprising result would have been impossible to detect if only one population was mapped. A comparison with zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata, chicken Gallus gallus and the green anole lizard Anolis carolinensis genomes provided further insight into the evolution of avian karyotypes.