Supergene for supercolour
Welcome to the update page of “Supergene for supercolour” !!
Colour polymorphic snail reveals the evolution of supergene architecture
The three researchers from Naturalis Biodiversity Centre (Leiden, The Netherlands) have been awarded a grant
from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for the project “Evolution of supergenes and the
genetic basis of snail colour polymorphism”. Dr. Suzanne Saenko, Dr. Dick Groenenberg, and Prof. Menno
Schilthuizen will study the the supergene that controls shell colour polymorphism in a classical
model for ecological genetics and climate-induced evolutionary change, the land snail Cepaea nemoralis.
A supergene is a cluster of several genes, each of which affects a different morphological or behavioural trait.
Because of tight physical linkage within supergenes multiple phenotypic characters are inherited as a single locus.
Supergenes are thought to be crucial for the maintenance of highly discrete adaptive phenotypes which can
eventually lead to reproductive isolation and speciation. Multiple complex polymorphisms are presumably
controlled by supergenes, but the molecular evidence for this phenomenon is still scarce and the emergence of
such genetic architecture is surprisingly poorly understood. To help fill this scientific gap, the researchers will
sequence and assemble the genome of C. nemoralis, identify the individual components of its supergene through
linkage mapping, and investigate their role in shell coloration through studies of gene expression and function.
Information about the progress will be posted on our website regularly.