Similar evolutionary potentials in an obligate ant parasite and its two host species.
ABSTRACT: The spatial structure of host-parasite coevolution is shaped by population structure and genetic diversity of the interacting species. We analysed these population genetic parameters in three related ant species: the parasitic slavemaking ant Protomognathus americanus and its two host species Temnothorax longispinosus and T. curvispinosus. We sampled throughout their range, genotyped ants on six to eight microsatellite loci and an MtDNA sequence and found high levels of genetic variation and strong population structure in all three species. Interestingly, the most abundant species and primary host, T. longispinosus, is characterized by less structure, but lower local genetic diversity. Generally, differences between the species were small, and we conclude that they have similar evolutionary potentials. The coevolutionary interaction between this social parasite and its hosts may therefore be less influenced by divergent evolutionary potentials, but rather by varying selection pressures. We employed different methods to quantify and compare genetic diversity and structure between species and genetic markers. We found that Jost D is well suited for these comparisons, as long as mutation rates between markers and species are similar. If this is not the case, for example, when using MtDNA and microsatellites to study sex-specific dispersal, model-based inference should be used instead of descriptive statistics (such as D or G(ST) ). Using coalescent-based methods, we indeed found that males disperse much more than females, but this sex bias in dispersal differed between species. The findings of the different approaches with regard to genetic diversity and structure were in good accordance with each other.
Project description:Dispersal is a fundamental trait of a species' biology. High dispersal results in weakly structured or even panmictic populations over large areas, whereas weak dispersal enables population differentiation and strong spatial structuring. We report on the genetic population structure in the polygyne ant Formica fusca and the relative contribution of the dispersing males and females to this. We sampled 12 localities across a ?35 km2 study area in Finland and generated mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotype data and microsatellite data. First, we assessed queen dispersal by estimating population differentiation from mtDNA haplotype data. Second, we analysed nuclear DNA microsatellite data to determine overall population genetic substructure in the study area with principal components analysis, Bayesian clustering, hierarchical F statistics and testing for evidence of isolation-by-distance. Third, we directly compared genetic differentiation estimates from maternally inherited mtDNA and bi-parentally inherited DNA microsatellites to test for sex-bias in dispersal. Our results showed no significant spatial structure or isolation by distance in neither mtDNA nor DNA microsatellite data, suggesting high dispersal of both sexes across the study area. However, mitochondrial differentiation was weaker (Fst-mt = 0.0047) than nuclear differentiation (Fst-nuc = 0.027), which translates into a sixfold larger female migration rate compared to that of males. We conclude that the weak population substructure reflects high dispersal in both sexes, and it is consistent with F. fusca as a pioneer species exploiting unstable habitats in successional boreal forests.
Project description:Endemic species on islands are considered at risk of extinction for several reasons, including limited dispersal abilities, small population sizes, and low genetic diversity. We used mitochondrial DNA (D-Loop) and 17 microsatellite loci to explore the evolutionary relationship between an endemic anemonefish, Amphiprion mccullochi (restricted to isolated locations in subtropical eastern Australia) and its more widespread sister species, A. akindynos. A mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) phylogram showed reciprocal monophyly was lacking for the two species, with two supported groups, each containing representatives of both species, but no shared haplotypes and up to 12 species, but not location-specific management units (MUs). Population genetic analyses suggested evolutionary connectivity among samples of each species (mtDNA), while ecological connectivity was only evident among populations of the endemic, A. mccullochi. This suggests higher dispersal between endemic anemonefish populations at both evolutionary and ecological timeframes, despite separation by hundreds of kilometers. The complex mtDNA structure results from historical hybridization and introgression in the evolutionary past of these species, validated by msat analyses (NEWHYBRIDS, STRUCTURE, and DAPC). Both species had high genetic diversities (mtDNA h > 0.90, ? = 4.0%; msat genetic diversity, gd > 0.670). While high gd and connectivity reduce extinction risk, identifying and protecting populations implicated in generating reticulate structure among these species should be a conservation priority.
Project description:Dispersal has consequences not only for individual fitness, but also for population dynamics, population genetics and species distribution. Social Hymenoptera show two contrasting colony reproductive strategies, dependent and independent colony foundation modes, and these are often associated to the population structures derived from inter and intra-population gene flow processes conditioned by alternative dispersal strategies. Here we employ microsatellite and mitochondrial markers to investigate the population and social genetic structure and dispersal patterns in the ant Cataglyphis emmae at both, local and regional scales. We find that C. emmae is monogynous and polyandrous. Lack of detection of any population viscosity and population structure with nuclear markers at the local scale suggests efficient dispersal, in agreement with a lack of inbreeding. Contrasting demographic differences before and during the mating seasons suggest that C. emmae workers raise sexuals in peripheric nest chambers to reduce intracolonial conflicts. The high genetic differentiation recovered from the mtDNA haplotypes, together with the significant correlation of such to geographic distance, and presence of new nuclear alleles between areas (valleys) suggest long-term historical isolation between these regions, indicative of limited dispersal at the regional scale. Our findings on the ecological, social and population structure of this species increases our understanding of the patterns and processes involved under independent colony foundation.
Project description:Aphid species within the genus Tuberculatus Mordvilko (Hemiptera: Aphididae) exhibit a variety of interactions with ants, ranging from close associations to non-attendance. A previous study indicated that despite wing possession, ant-attended Tuberculatus species exhibited low dispersal rates compared with non-attended species. This study examined if presence or absence of mutualistic interactions and habitat continuity of host plants affected intraspecific genetic diversity and genetic differentiation in mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I (COI) sequences. Sympatric ant-attended Tuberculatus quercicola (Matsumura) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) and non-attended Tuberculatus paiki Hille Ris Lambers (Hemiptera: Aphididae) were collected from the daimyo oak Quercus dentata Thunberg (Fagales: Fagaceae) in Japan and examined for haplotype variability. Seventeen haplotypes were identified in 568 T. quercicola individuals representing 23 populations and seven haplotypes in 425 T. paiki representing 19 populations. Haplotype diversity, which indicates the mean number of differences between all pairs of haplotypes in the sample, and nucleotide diversity were higher in T. quercicola than T. paiki. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) showed higher genetic differentiation among populations within groups of T. quercicola (39.8%) than T. paiki (22.6%). The effects of attendant ant species on genetic differentiation in T. quercicola were not distinguishable from geographic factors. Despite low dispersal rates, host plant habitat continuity might facilitate widespread dispersal of a T. quercicola haplotype in Hokkaido. These results suggested that following T. quercicola colonization, gene flow among populations was limited, resulting in genetic drift within populations. However, frequent T. paiki dispersal is clearly evident by low genetic differentiation among populations within groups, resulting in lower haplotype diversity.
Project description:We analyze the relative contribution of environmental and spatial variables to the alpha and beta components of taxonomic (TD), phylogenetic (PD), and functional (FD) diversity in ant communities found along different climate and anthropogenic disturbance gradients across western and central Europe, in order to assess the mechanisms structuring ant biodiversity. To this aim we calculated alpha and beta TD, PD, and FD for 349 ant communities, which included a total of 155 ant species; we examined 10 functional traits and phylogenetic relatedness. Variation partitioning was used to examine how much variation in ant diversity was explained by environmental and spatial variables. Autocorrelation in diversity measures and each trait's phylogenetic signal were also analyzed. We found strong autocorrelation in diversity measures. Both environmental and spatial variables significantly contributed to variation in TD, PD, and FD at both alpha and beta scales; spatial structure had the larger influence. The different facets of diversity showed similar patterns along environmental gradients. Environment explained a much larger percentage of variation in FD than in TD or PD. All traits demonstrated strong phylogenetic signals. Our results indicate that environmental filtering and dispersal limitations structure all types of diversity in ant communities. Strong dispersal limitations appear to have led to clustering of TD, PD, and FD in western and central Europe, probably because different historical and evolutionary processes generated different pools of species. Remarkably, these three facets of diversity showed parallel patterns along environmental gradients. Trait-mediated species sorting and niche conservatism appear to structure ant diversity, as evidenced by the fact that more variation was explained for FD and that all traits had strong phylogenetic signals. Since environmental variables explained much more variation in FD than in PD, functional diversity should be a better indicator of community assembly processes than phylogenetic diversity.
Project description:A new species of the ant genus Temnothorax Forel, 1890 - Temnothorax pilagens sp. n. is described from eastern North America. T. pilagens sp. n. is an obligate slave-making ant with two known hosts: T. longispinosus (Roger, 1863) and T. ambiguus (Emery, 1895). A differential diagnosis against Temnothorax duloticus (Wesson, 1937), the other dulotic congener from the Nearctic, is presented and a biological characteristics of the new species is given.
Project description:Wind-borne pollinating wasps (Agaonidae) can transport fig (Ficus sp., Moraceae) pollen over enormous distances (> 100 km). Because of their extensive breeding areas, Neotropical figs are expected to exhibit weak patterns of genetic structure at local and regional scales. We evaluated genetic structure at the regional to continental scale (Panama, Costa Rica, and Peru) for the free-standing fig species Ficus insipida. Genetic differentiation was detected only at distances > 300 km (Jost´s Dest = 0.68 ± 0.07 & FST = 0.30 ± 0.03 between Mesoamerican and Amazonian sites) and evidence for phylogeographic structure (RST>>permuted RST) was only significant in comparisons between Central and South America. Further, we assessed local scale spatial genetic structure (SGS, d ? 8 km) in Panama and developed an agent-based model parameterized with data from F. insipida to estimate minimum pollination distances, which determine the contribution of pollen dispersal on SGS. The local scale data for F. insipida was compared to SGS data collected for an additional free-standing fig, F. yoponensis (subgenus Pharmacosycea), and two species of strangler figs, F. citrifolia and F. obtusifolia (subgenus Urostigma) sampled in Panama. All four species displayed significant SGS (mean Sp = 0.014 ± 0.012). Model simulations indicated that most pollination events likely occur at distances > > 1 km, largely ruling out spatially limited pollen dispersal as the determinant of SGS in F. insipida and, by extension, the other fig species. Our results are consistent with the view that Ficus develops fine-scale SGS primarily as a result of localized seed dispersal and/or clumped seedling establishment despite extensive long-distance pollen dispersal. We discuss several ecological and life history factors that could have species- or subgenus-specific impacts on the genetic structure of Neotropical figs.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The specialist-generalist variation hypothesis (SGVH) in parasites suggests that, due to patchiness in habitat (host availability), specialist species will show more subdivided population structure when compared to generalist species. In addition, since specialist species are more prone to local stochastic extinction events with their hosts, they will show lower levels of intraspecific genetic diversity when compared to more generalist. RESULTS:To test the wider applicability of the SGVH we compared 337 cytochrome oxidase I mitochondrial DNA and 268 nuclear tropomyosin DNA sequenced fragments derived from two co-distributed Laelaps mite species and compared the data to 294 COI mtDNA sequences derived from the respective hosts Rhabdomys dilectus, R. bechuanae, Mastomys coucha and M. natalensis. In support of the SGVH, the generalist L. muricola was characterized by a high mtDNA haplotypic diversity of 0.97 (±0.00) and a low level of population differentiation (mtDNA Fst?=?0.56, p?<?0.05; nuDNA Fst?=?0.33, P?<?0.05) while the specialist L. giganteus was overall characterized by a lower haplotypic diversity of 0.77 (±0.03) and comparatively higher levels of population differentiation (mtDNA Fst?=?0.87, P?<?0.05; nuDNA Fst?=?0.48, P?<?0.05). When the two specialist L. giganteus lineages, which occur on two different Rhabdomys species, are respectively compared to the generalist parasite, L. muricola, the SGVH is not fully supported. One of the specialist L. giganteus species occurring on R. dilectus shows similar low levels of population differentiation (mtDNA Fst?=?0.53, P?<?0.05; nuDNA Fst?=?0.12, P?<?0.05) than that found for the generalist L. muricola. This finding can be correlated to differences in host dispersal: R. bechuanae populations are characterized by a differentiated mtDNA Fst of 0.79 (P?<?0.05) while R. dilectus populations are less structured with a mtDNA Fst?=?0.18 (P?<?0.05). CONCLUSIONS:These findings suggest that in ectoparasites, host specificity and the vagility of the host are both important drivers for parasite dispersal. It is proposed that the SGHV hypothesis should also incorporate reference to host dispersal since in our case only the specialist species who occur on less mobile hosts showed more subdivided population structure when compared to generalist species.
Project description:Freshwater organisms of North America have had their contemporary genetic structure shaped by vicariant events, especially Pleistocene glaciations. Life history traits promoting dispersal and gene flow continue to shape population genetic structure. Cumberlandia monodonta, a widespread but imperiled (IUCN listed as endangered) freshwater mussel, was examined to determine genetic diversity and population genetic structure throughout its range. Mitochondrial DNA sequences and microsatellite loci were used to measure genetic diversity and simulate demographic events during the Pleistocene using approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) to test explicit hypotheses explaining the evolutionary history of current populations. A phylogeny and molecular clock suggested past isolation created two mtDNA lineages during the Pleistocene that are now widespread. Two distinct groups were also detected with microsatellites. ABC simulations indicated the presence of two glacial refugia and post-glacial admixture of them followed by simultaneous dispersal throughout the current range of the species. The Ouachita population is distinct from others and has the lowest genetic diversity, indicating that this is a peripheral population of the species. Gene flow within this species has maintained high levels of genetic diversity in most populations; however, all populations have experienced fragmentation. Extirpation from the center of its range likely has isolated remaining populations due to the geographic distances among them.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Historical factors, demography, reproduction and dispersal are crucial in determining the genetic structure of seabirds. In the Antarctic marine environment, penguins are a major component of the avian biomass, dominant predators and important bioindicators of ecological change. Populations of chinstrap penguins have decreased in nearly all their breeding sites, and their range is expanding throughout the Antarctic Peninsula. Population genetic structure of this species has been studied in some colonies, but not between breeding colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula or at the species' easternmost breeding colony (Bouvetøya). RESULTS:Connectivity, sex-biased dispersal, diversity, genetic structure and demographic history were studied using 12 microsatellite loci and a mitochondrial DNA region (HVRI) in 12 breeding colonies in the South Shetland Islands (SSI) and the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), and one previously unstudied sub-Antarctic island, 3600 km away from the WAP (Bouvetøya). High genetic diversity, evidence of female bias-dispersal and a sign of population expansion after the last glacial maximum around 10,000 mya were detected. Limited population genetic structure and lack of isolation by distance throughout the region were found, along with no differentiation between the WAP and Bouvetøya (overall microsatellite F ST ?=?0.002, p?= 0.273; mtDNA F ST =?-?0.004, p?= 0.766), indicating long distance dispersal. Therefore, genetic assignment tests could not assign individuals to their population(s) of origin. The most differentiated location was Georges Point, one of the southernmost breeding colonies of this species in the WAP. CONCLUSIONS:The subtle differentiation found may be explained by some combination of low natal philopatric behavior, high rates of dispersal and/or generally high mobility among colonies of chinstrap penguins compared to other Pygoscelis species.