University of Gothenburg
Emma Berdan (left) and collegue Claire Mérot on the beach looking for seaweed flies to be used for studies of supergenes.
Emma Berdan (left) and collegue Claire Mérot on the beach, collecting seaweed flies to be used as model organisms for supergene studies.

CeMEB member Emma Berdan guest-editor of special issue on supergenes

Supergenes underlie many complex phenotypes in nature including colony structure in ants, wing patterning in butterflies, and behavior in birds. This theme issue showcases the remarkable diversity in supergene structure and genetic content across the tree of life.

Congrats Emma! How does it feel to see the special issue published?

"It is so rewarding to have this idea we had back at the start of 2021 come to fruition! All of the papers are so fantastic, it is exciting that other people can finally read them too! I am really looking forward to seeing how they shape the field moving forward. "

What is this special issue about?

"The special issue is about supergenes, tightly linked sets of alleles, that underlie discrete phenotypic traits. Supergenes are interesting because they allow for multiple discrete phenotypes to exist in a single population. Although the ubiquity and importance of supergenes in evolution is now being realized, we don’t fully understand how they evolve. The advent of third generation sequencing and new computational methods allows us to finally take a closer look at supergenes on the genomic level, something which many of the papers do!" 

Can you tell us a little about the editing process?

"We first proposed the special issue to Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B in January 2021, so it has been quite a journey. It has been exciting to see each paper as it comes in and how they are improved by the reviewer comments. We had such amazing reviewers that really took a lot of time with each paper and provided in-depth comments".

"We were lucky to be five editors so that we only had to handle two or three papers each. Writing the introduction at the end was also a great experience as we could see how all of the papers fit together thematically and addressed different facets of supergene evolution." 

Any of the articles you would like to promote?

"All of our articles are great! If someone does not have time to read them all, I would suggest starting with the introductory paper which reviews the insights that the issue provides and summarizes all the articles."

"Also, I would like to add that it was a pleasure to work with the entire international guest editing team: Genevieve Kozak from University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth, USA, Thomas Flatt  from University of Fribourg, Switzerland, Katie Lotterhos from Northeastern University, USA, and Ben Wielstra from University of Leiden, The Netherlands."

Theme Issue Facts

Theme issue "Genomic architecture of supergenes: causes and evolutionary consequences" contains a total of fifteen articles. Among the authors are CeMEB members Emma Berdan, Roger Butlin, Anja Westram, Kerstin Johannesson, and Rui Faria.

The Issue is compiled and edited by Emma L. Berdan, Thomas Flatt, Genevieve M. Kozak, Katie E. Lotterhos and Ben Wielstra.. Published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Volume 377, Issue 1856.