MtDNA and the origin of the Icelanders: deciphering signals of recent population history.
ABSTRACT: Previous attempts to investigate the origin of the Icelanders have provided estimates of ancestry ranging from a 98% British Isles contribution to an 86% Scandinavian contribution. We generated mitochondrial sequence data for 401 Icelandic individuals and compared these data with >2,500 other European sequences from published sources, to determine the probable origins of women who contributed to Iceland's settlement. Although the mean number of base-pair differences is high in the Icelandic sequences and they are widely distributed in the overall European mtDNA phylogeny, we find a smaller number of distinct mitochondrial lineages, compared with most other European populations. The frequencies of a number of mtDNA lineages in the Icelanders deviate noticeably from those in neighboring populations, suggesting that founder effects and genetic drift may have had a considerable influence on the Icelandic gene pool. This is in accordance with available demographic evidence about Icelandic population history. A comparison with published mtDNA lineages from European populations indicates that, whereas most founding females probably originated from Scandinavia and the British Isles, lesser contributions from other populations may also have taken place. We present a highly resolved phylogenetic network for the Icelandic data, identifying a number of previously unreported mtDNA lineage clusters and providing a detailed depiction of the evolutionary relationships between European mtDNA clusters. Our findings indicate that European populations contain a large number of closely related mitochondrial lineages, many of which have not yet been sampled in the current comparative data set. Consequently, substantial increases in sample sizes that use mtDNA data will be needed to obtain valid estimates of the diverse ancestral mixtures that ultimately gave rise to contemporary populations.
Project description:Origins of the fauna in Iceland is controversial, although the majority of modern research supports the postglacial colonization of this island by terrestrial invertebrates rather than their long-term survival in glacial refugia. In this study, we use three bumblebee species as a model to test the hypothesis regarding possible cryptic refugia in Iceland and to evaluate a putative origin of recently introduced taxa. Bombus jonellus is thought to be a possible native Icelandic lineage, whereas B. lucorum and B. hortorum were evidently introduced in the second half of the 20th century. These phylogeographic analyses reveal that the Icelandic Bombus jonellus shares two COI lineages, one of which also occurs in populations on the British Isles and in mainland Europe, but a second lineage (BJ-02) has not been recorded anywhere. These results indicate that this species may have colonized Iceland two times and that the lineage BJ-02 may reflect a more ancient Late Pleistocene or Early Holocene founder event (e.g., from the British Isles). The Icelandic populations of both Bombus lucorum and B. hortorum share the COI lineages that were recorded as widespread throughout Eurasia, from the European countries across Russia to China and Japan. The findings presented here highlight that the bumblebee fauna of Iceland comprises mainly widespread ubiquitous lineages that arrived via natural or human-mediated dispersal events from the British Isles or the mainland.
Project description:BACKGROUND: House mice (Mus musculus) are commensals of humans and therefore their phylogeography can reflect human colonization and settlement patterns. Previous studies have linked the distribution of house mouse mitochondrial (mt) DNA clades to areas formerly occupied by the Norwegian Vikings in Norway and the British Isles. Norwegian Viking activity also extended further westwards in the North Atlantic with the settlement of Iceland, short-lived colonies in Greenland and a fleeting colony in Newfoundland in 1000 AD. Here we investigate whether house mouse mtDNA sequences reflect human history in these other regions as well. RESULTS: House mice samples from Iceland, whether from archaeological Viking Age material or from modern-day specimens, had an identical mtDNA haplotype to the clade previously linked with Norwegian Vikings. From mtDNA and microsatellite data, the modern-day Icelandic mice also share the low genetic diversity shown by their human hosts on Iceland. Viking Age mice from Greenland had an mtDNA haplotype deriving from the Icelandic haplotype, but the modern-day Greenlandic mice belong to an entirely different mtDNA clade. We found no genetic association between modern Newfoundland mice and the Icelandic/ancient Greenlandic mice (no ancient Newfoundland mice were available). The modern day Icelandic and Newfoundland mice belong to the subspecies M. m. domesticus, the Greenlandic mice to M. m. musculus. CONCLUSIONS: In the North Atlantic region, human settlement history over a thousand years is reflected remarkably by the mtDNA phylogeny of house mice. In Iceland, the mtDNA data show the arrival and continuity of the house mouse population to the present day, while in Greenland the data suggest the arrival, subsequent extinction and recolonization of house mice--in both places mirroring the history of the European human host populations. If house mice arrived in Newfoundland with the Viking settlers at all, then, like the humans, their presence was also fleeting and left no genetic trace. The continuity of mtDNA haplotype in Iceland over 1000 years illustrates that mtDNA can retain the signature of the ancestral house mouse founders. We also show that, in terms of genetic variability, house mouse populations may also track their host human populations.
Project description:A total of 1,664 new mtDNA control-region sequences were analyzed in order to estimate Gaelic and Scandinavian matrilineal ancestry in the populations of Iceland, Orkney, the Western Isles, and the Isle of Skye and to investigate other aspects of their genetic history. A relative excess of private lineages in the Icelanders is indicative of isolation, whereas the scarcity of private lineages in Scottish island populations may be explained by recent gene flow and population decline. Differences in the frequencies of lineage clusters are observed between the Scandinavian and the Gaelic source mtDNA pools, and, on a continent-wide basis, such differences between populations seem to be associated with geography. A multidimensional scaling analysis of genetic distances, based on mtDNA lineage-cluster frequencies, groups the North Atlantic islanders with the Gaelic and the Scandinavian populations, whereas populations from the central, southern, and Baltic regions of Europe are arranged in clusters in broad agreement with their geographic locations. This pattern is highly significant, according to a Mantel correlation between genetic and geographic distances (r=.716). Admixture analyses indicate that the ancestral contributions of mtDNA lineages from Scandinavia to the populations of Iceland, Orkney, the Western Isles, and the Isle of Skye are 37.5%, 35.5%, 11.5%, and 12.5%, respectively.
Project description:The west European subspecies of house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus) has gained much of its current widespread distribution through commensalism with humans. This means that the phylogeography of M. m. domesticus should reflect patterns of human movements. We studied restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and DNA sequence variations in mouse mitochondrial (mt) DNA throughout the British Isles (328 mice from 105 localities, including previously published data). There is a major mtDNA lineage revealed by both RFLP and sequence analyses, which is restricted to the northern and western peripheries of the British Isles, and also occurs in Norway. This distribution of the 'Orkney' lineage fits well with the sphere of influence of the Norwegian Vikings and was probably generated through inadvertent transport by them. To form viable populations, house mice would have required large human settlements such as the Norwegian Vikings founded. The other parts of the British Isles (essentially most of mainland Britain) are characterized by house mice with different mtDNA sequences, some of which are also found in Germany, and which probably reflect both Iron Age movements of people and mice and earlier development of large human settlements. MtDNA studies on house mice have the potential to reveal novel aspects of human history.
Project description:Phylogeographic studies provide critical insight into the evolutionary histories of model organisms; yet, to date, range-wide data are lacking for the rough periwinkle Littorina saxatilis, a classic example of marine sympatric speciation. Here, we use mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence data to demonstrate that L. saxatilis is not monophyletic for this marker, but is composed of two distinct mtDNA lineages (I and II) that are shared with sister species Littorina arcana and Littorina compressa. Bayesian coalescent dating and phylogeographic patterns indicate that both L. saxatilis lineages originated in the eastern North Atlantic, around the British Isles, at approximately 0.64 Ma. Both lineages are now distributed broadly across the eastern, central and western North Atlantic, and show strong phylogeographic structure among regions. The Iberian Peninsula is genetically distinct, suggesting prolonged isolation from northeastern North Atlantic populations. Western North Atlantic populations of L. saxatilis lineages I and II predate the last glacial maximum and have been isolated from eastern North Atlantic populations since that time. This identification of two distinct, broadly distributed mtDNA lineages further complicates observed patterns of repeated incipient ecological speciation in L. saxatilis, because the sympatric origins of distinct ecotype pairs on eastern North Atlantic shores may be confounded by admixture of divergent lineages.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The accurate delimitation of species is essential to numerous areas of biological research. An unbiased assessment of the diversity, including the cryptic diversity, is of particular importance for the below ground fauna, a major component of global biodiversity. On the British Isles, the epigeic earthworm Lumbricus rubellus, which is a sentinel species in soil ecotoxicology, consists of two cryptic taxa that are differentiated in both the nuclear and the mitochondrial (mtDNA) genomes. Recently, several deeply divergent mtDNA lineages were detected in mainland Europe, but whether these earthworms also constitute cryptic species remains unclear. This information is important from an evolutionary perspective, but it is also essential for the interpretation and the design of ecotoxicological projects. In this study, we used genome-wide RADseq data to assess the reproductive isolation of the divergent mitochondrial lineages of L.?rubellus that occur in sympatry in multiple localities in Central Europe. RESULTS:We identified five divergent (up to 16 % net p-distance) mitochondrial lineages of L.?rubellus in sympatry. Because the clustering of the RADseq data was according to the population of origin and not the mtDNA lineage, reproductive isolation among the mtDNA lineages was not likely. Although each population contained multiple mtDNA lineages, subdivisions within the populations were not observed for the nuclear genome. The lack of fixed differences and sharing of the overwhelming majority of nuclear polymorphisms between localities, indicated that the populations did not constitute allopatric species. The nucleotide diversity within the populations was high, 0.7-0.8 %. CONCLUSIONS:The deeply divergent mtDNA sympatric lineages of L.?rubellus in Central Europe were not reproductively isolated groups. The earthworm L.?rubellus, which is represented by several mtDNA lineages in continental Europe, apparently is a single highly polymorphic species rather than a complex of several cryptic species. This study demonstrated the critical importance of the use of multilocus nuclear data for the unbiased assessment of cryptic diversity and for the delimitation of species in soil invertebrates.
Project description:Our study describes genetic lineages and historical biogeography of Rhodiola rosea a widely distributed arctic-alpine perennial species of the Northern Hemisphere based on sequence analysis of six chloroplast regions. Specimens of 44 localities from the Northern Hemisphere have been sequenced and compared with those available in the GenBank. Our results support the migration of the species into Europe via the Central Asian highland corridor, reaching the European Alpine System (EAS) and also the western European edge, the British Isles. The EAS proved to be an important center of genetic diversity, especially the region of the Eastern Alps and the Dolomites where signs of glacial refugia was observed. Apart from those of the EAS, a common lineage was detected along the Atlantic coast from the British Isles toward Scandinavia as well as Iceland and the eastern parts of North America. Accordingly, the British Isles represent a main link between the northern Atlantic and southern EAS lineages.
Project description:The tendency of many species to abandon migration remains a poorly understood aspect of evolutionary biology that may play an important role in promoting species radiation by both allopatric and sympatric mechanisms. Anadromy inherently offers an opportunity for the colonization of freshwater environments, and the shift from an anadromous to a wholly freshwater life history has occurred in many families of fishes. Freshwater-resident forms have arisen repeatedly among lampreys (within the Petromyzontidae and Mordaciidae), and there has been much debate as to whether anadromous lampreys, and their derived freshwater-resident analogues, constitute distinct species or are divergent ecotypes of polymorphic species. Samples of 543 European river lamprey Lampetra fluviatilis (mostly from anadromous populations) and freshwater European brook lamprey Lampetra planeri from across 18 sites, primarily in the British Isles, were investigated for 13 polymorphic microsatellite DNA loci, and 108 samples from six of these sites were sequenced for 829 bp of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). We found contrasting patterns of population structure for mtDNA and microsatellite DNA markers, such that low diversity and little structure were seen for all populations for mtDNA (consistent with a recent founder expansion event), while fine-scale structuring was evident for nuclear markers. Strong differentiation for microsatellite DNA loci was seen among freshwater-resident L. planeri populations and between L. fluviatilis and L. planeri in most cases, but little structure was evident among anadromous L. fluviatilis populations. We conclude that postglacial colonization founded multiple freshwater-resident populations with strong habitat fidelity and limited dispersal tendencies that became highly differentiated, a pattern that was likely intensified by anthropogenic barriers.
Project description:The Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is an emblematic species for conservation, and its decline in the British Isles exemplifies the impact that alien introductions can have on native ecosystems. Indeed, red squirrels in this region have declined dramatically over the last 60 years due to the spread of squirrelpox virus following the introduction of the gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). Currently, red squirrel populations in Britain are fragmented and need to be closely monitored in order to assess their viability and the effectiveness of conservation efforts. The situation is even more dramatic in the South of England, where S. vulgaris survives only on islands (Brownsea Island, Furzey Island, and the Isle of Wight). Using the D-loop, we investigated the genetic diversity and putative ancestry of the squirrels from Southern England and compared them to a European dataset composed of 1,016 samples from 54 populations. We found that our three populations were more closely related to other squirrels from the British Isles than squirrels from Europe, showed low genetic diversity, and also harbored several private haplotypes. Our study demonstrates how genetically unique the Southern English populations are in comparison with squirrels from the continental European range. We report the presence of four private haplotypes, suggesting that these populations may potentially harbor distinct genetic lineages. Our results emphasize the importance of preserving these isolated red squirrel populations for the conservation of the species.
Project description:The paternal origins of Thoroughbred racehorses trace back to a handful of Middle Eastern stallions, imported to the British Isles during the seventeenth century. Yet, few details of the foundation mares were recorded, in many cases not even their names (several different maternal lineages trace back to 'A Royal Mare'). This has fuelled intense speculation over their origins. We examined mitochondrial DNA from 1929 horses to determine the origin of Thoroughbred foundation mares. There is no evidence to support exclusive Arab maternal origins as some historical records have suggested, or a significant importation of Oriental mares (the term used in historic records to refer to Middle East and western Asian breeds including Arab, Akhal-Teke, Barb and Caspian). Instead, we show that Thoroughbred foundation mares had a cosmopolitan European heritage with a far greater contribution from British and Irish Native mares than previously recognized.