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    Epigenetic modifications are thought to be one of the molecular mechanisms involved in plastic adaptive responses to environmental variation. However, studies reporting associations between genome-wide epigenetic changes and habitat-specific variations in life history traits (e.g., lifespan, reproduction) are still scarce, likely due to the recent application of methylome resequencing methods to non-model species. In this study, we examined associations between whole genome DNA methylation and environmentally driven life history variation in 2 lineages of a marine fish, the capelin (Mallotus villosus), from North America and Europe. In both lineages, capelin harbor 2 contrasting life history tactics (demersal vs. beach-spawning). Performing whole genome and methylome sequencing, we showed that life history tactics are associated with epigenetic changes in both lineages, though the effect was stronger in European capelin. Genetic differentiation between the capelin harboring different life history tactics was negligible, but we found genome-wide methylation changes in both lineages. We identified 9,125 European and 199 North American differentially methylated regions (DMRs) due to life history. Gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis for both lineages revealed an excess of terms related to neural function. Our results suggest that environmental variation causes important epigenetic changes that are associated with contrasting life history tactics in lineages with divergent genetic backgrounds, with variable importance of genetic variation in driving epigenetic variation. Our study emphasizes the potential role of genome-wide epigenetic variation in adaptation to environmental variation. © The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE). All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


    Clare J Venney, Hugo Cayuela, Clément Rougeux, Martin Laporte, Claire Mérot, Eric Normandeau, Maëva Leitwein, Yann Dorant, Kim Præbel, Ellen Kenchington, Marie Clément, Pascal Sirois, Louis Bernatchez. Genome-wide DNA methylation predicts environmentally driven life history variation in a marine fish. Evolution; international journal of organic evolution. 2023 Jan 23;77(1):186-198

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    PMID: 36622671

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