Hard versus soft selective sweeps during domestication and improvement in soybean

Limei Zhong, Youlin Zhu, Kenneth M. Olsen

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4 Scopus citations


Genome scans for selection can provide an efficient way to dissect the genetic basis of domestication traits and understand mechanisms of adaptation during crop evolution. Selection involving soft sweeps (simultaneous selection for multiple alleles) is probably common in plant genomes but is under-studied, and few if any studies have systematically scanned for soft sweeps in the context of crop domestication. Using genome resequencing data from 302 wild and domesticated soybean accessions, we conducted selection scans using five widely employed statistics to identify selection candidates under classical (hard) and soft sweeps. Across the genome, inferred hard sweeps are predominant in domesticated soybean landraces and improved varieties, whereas soft sweeps are more prevalent in a representative subpopulation of the wild ancestor. Six domestication-related genes, representing both hard and soft sweeps and different stages of domestication, were used as positive controls to assess the detectability of domestication-associated sweeps. Performance of various test statistics suggests that differentiation-based (FST) methods are robust for detecting complete hard sweeps, and that LD-based strategies perform well for identifying recent/ongoing sweeps; however, none of the test statistics detected a known soft sweep we previously documented at the domestication gene Dt1. Genome scans yielded a set of 66 candidate loci that were identified by both differentiation-based and LD-based (iHH) methods; notably, this shared set overlaps with many previously identified QTLs for soybean domestication/improvement traits. Collectively, our results will help to advance genetic characterizations of soybean domestication traits and shed light on selection modes involved in adaptation in domesticated plant species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3137-3153
Number of pages17
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • domestication
  • genome scan
  • hard sweep
  • soft sweep
  • soybean (Glycine max)


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