Are sympatrically speciating Midas cichlid fish special? Patterns of morphological and genetic variation in the closely related species Archocentrus centrarchus.
ABSTRACT: Established empirical cases of sympatric speciation are scarce, although there is an increasing consensus that sympatric speciation might be more common than previously thought. Midas cichlid fish are one of the few substantiated cases of sympatric speciation, and they formed repeated radiations in crater lakes. In contrast, in the same environment, such radiation patterns have not been observed in other species of cichlids and other families of fish. We analyze morphological and genetic variation in a cichlid species (Archocentrus centrarchus) that co-inhabits several crater lakes with the Midas species complex. In particular, we analyze variation in body and pharyngeal jaw shape (two ecologically important traits in sympatrically divergent Midas cichlids) and relate that to genetic variation in mitochondrial control region and microsatellites. Using these four datasets, we analyze variation between and within two Nicaraguan lakes: a crater lake where multiple Midas cichlids have been described and a lake where the source population lives. We do not observe any within-lake clustering consistent across morphological traits and genetic markers, suggesting the absence of sympatric divergence in A. centrarchus. Genetic differentiation between lakes was low and morphological divergence absent. Such morphological similarity between lakes is found not only in average morphology, but also when analyzing covariation between traits and degree of morphospace occupation. A combined analysis of the mitochondrial control region in A. centrarchus and Midas cichlids suggests that a difference between lineages in the timing of crater lake colonization cannot be invoked as an explanation for the difference in their levels of diversification. In light of our results, A. centrarchus represents the ideal candidate to study the genomic differences between these two lineages that might explain why some lineages are more likely to speciate and diverge in sympatry than others.
Project description:The polychromatic and trophically polymorphic Midas cichlid fish species complex (Amphilophus cf. citrinellus) is an excellent model system for studying the mechanisms of speciation and patterns of phenotypic diversification in allopatry and in sympatry. Here, we first review research to date on the species complex and the geological history of its habitat. We analyse body shape variation from all currently described species in the complex, sampled from six crater lakes (maximally 1.2-23.9 kyr old) and both great lakes in Nicaragua. We find that Midas cichlid populations in each lake have their own characteristic body shape. In lakes with multiple sympatric species of Midas cichlid, each species has a distinct body shape. Across the species complex, most body shape change relates to body depth, head, snout and mouth shape and caudal peduncle length. There is independent parallel evolution of an elongate limnetic species in at least two crater lakes. Mitochondrial genetic diversity is higher in crater lakes with multiple species. Midas cichlid species richness increases with the size and age of the crater lakes, though no such relationship exists for the other syntopic fishes. We suggest that crater lake Midas cichlids follow the predicted pattern of an adaptive radiation, with early divergence of each crater lake colonization, followed by intralacustrine diversification and speciation by ecological adaptation and sexual selection.
Project description:BACKGROUND: After a volcano erupts, a lake may form in the cooled crater and become an isolated aquatic ecosystem. This makes fishes in crater lakes informative for understanding sympatric evolution and ecological diversification in barren environments. From a geological and limnological perspective, such research offers insight about the process of crater lake ecosystem establishment and speciation. In the present study we use genetic and coalescence approaches to infer the colonization history of Midas cichlid fishes (Amphilophus cf. citrinellus) that inhabit a very young crater lake in Nicaragua-the ca. 1800 year-old Lake Apoyeque. This lake holds two sympatric, endemic morphs of Midas cichlid: one with large, hypertrophied lips (approximately 20% of the total population) and another with thin lips. Here we test the associated ecological, morphological and genetic diversification of these two morphs and their potential to represent incipient speciation. RESULTS: Gene coalescence analyses [11 microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences] suggest that crater lake Apoyeque was colonized in a single event from the large neighbouring great lake Managua only about 100 years ago. This founding in historic times is also reflected in the extremely low nuclear and mitochondrial genetic diversity in Apoyeque. We found that sympatric adult thin- and thick-lipped fishes occupy distinct ecological trophic niches. Diet, body shape, head width, pharyngeal jaw size and shape and stable isotope values all differ significantly between the two lip-morphs. The eco-morphological features pharyngeal jaw shape, body shape, stomach contents and stable isotopes (delta15N) all show a bimodal distribution of traits, which is compatible with the expectations of an initial stage of ecological speciation under disruptive selection. Genetic differentiation between the thin- and thick-lipped population is weak at mtDNA sequence (FST = 0.018) and absent at nuclear microsatellite loci (FST < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: This study provides empirical evidence of eco-morphological differentiation occurring very quickly after the colonization of a new and vacant habitat. Exceptionally low levels of neutral genetic diversity and inference from coalescence indicates that the Midas cichlid population in Apoyeque is much younger (ca. 100 years or generations old) than the crater itself (ca. 1 800 years old). This suggests either that the crater remained empty for many hundreds of years after its formation or that remnant volcanic activity prevented the establishment of a stable fish population during the early life of the crater lake. Based on our findings of eco-morphological variation in the Apoyeque Midas cichlids, and known patterns of adaptation in Midas cichlids in general, we suggest that this population may be in a very early stage of speciation (incipient species), promoted by disruptive selection and ecological diversification.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Elucidation of the mechanisms driving speciation requires detailed knowledge about the phylogenetic relationships and phylogeography of the incipient species within their entire ranges as well as their colonization history. The Midas cichlid species complex Amphilophus spp. has been proven to be a powerful model system for the study of ecological specialization, sexual selection and the mechanisms of sympatric speciation. Here we present a comprehensive and integrative phylogeographic analysis of the complete Midas Cichlid species complex in Nicaragua (> 2000 individuals) covering the entire distributional range, using two types of molecular markers (the mitochondrial DNA control region and 15 microsatellites). We investigated the majority of known lake populations of this species complex and reconstructed their colonization history in order to distinguish between alternative speciation scenarios. RESULTS:We found that the large lakes contain older and more diverse Midas Cichlid populations, while all crater lakes hold younger and genetically less variable species assemblages. The large lakes appear to have repeatedly acted as source populations for all crater lakes, and our data indicate that faunal exchange among crater lakes is extremely unlikely. Despite their very recent (often only a few thousand years old) and common origin from the two large Nicaraguan lakes, all crater lake Midas Cichlid radiations underwent independent, but parallel, evolution, and comprise distinct genetic units. Indeed several of these crater lakes contain multiple genetically distinct incipient species that most likely arose through sympatric speciation. Several crater lake radiations can be traced back to a single ancestral line, but some appear to have more than one founding lineage. The timing of the colonization(s) of each crater lake differs, although most of them occurred more (probably much more) recently than 20,000 years ago. CONCLUSION:The genetic differentiation of the crater lake populations is directly related to the number of founding lineages, but independent of the timing of colonization. Interestingly, levels of phenotypic differentiation, and speciation events, appeared independent of both factors.
Project description:Cichlid fishes are an excellent model system for studying speciation and the formation of adaptive radiations because of their tremendous species richness and astonishing phenotypic diversity. Most research has focused on African rift lake fishes, although Neotropical cichlid species display much variability as well. Almost one dozen species of the Midas cichlid species complex (Amphilophus spp.) have been described so far and have formed repeated adaptive radiations in several Nicaraguan crater lakes. Here we apply double-digest restriction-site associated DNA sequencing to obtain a high-density linkage map of an interspecific cross between the benthic Amphilophus astorquii and the limnetic Amphilophus zaliosus, which are sympatric species endemic to Crater Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua. A total of 755 RAD markers were genotyped in 343 F(2) hybrids. The map resolved 25 linkage groups and spans a total distance of 1427 cM with an average marker spacing distance of 1.95 cM, almost matching the total number of chromosomes (n = 24) in these species. Regions of segregation distortion were identified in five linkage groups. Based on the pedigree of parents to F(2) offspring, we calculated a genome-wide mutation rate of 6.6 × 10(-8) mutations per nucleotide per generation. This genetic map will facilitate the mapping of ecomorphologically relevant adaptive traits in the repeated phenotypes that evolved within the Midas cichlid lineage and, as the first linkage map of a Neotropical cichlid, facilitate comparative genomic analyses between African cichlids, Neotropical cichlids and other teleost fishes.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) is a key component of the adaptive immune system of all vertebrates and consists of the most polymorphic genes known to date. Due to this complexity, however, MHC remains to be characterized in many species including any Neotropical cichlid fish. Neotropical crater lake cichlids are ideal models to study evolutionary processes as they display one of the most convincing examples of sympatric and repeated parallel radiation events within and among isolated crater lakes. RESULTS:Here, we characterized the genes of MHC class IIB chain of the Midas cichlid species complex (Amphilophus cf. citrinellus) including fish from five lakes in Nicaragua. We designed 19 new specific primers anchored in a stepwise fashion in order to detect all alleles present. We obtained 866 genomic DNA (gDNA) sequences from thirteen individuals and 756 additional sequences from complementary DNA (cDNA) of seven of those individuals. We identified 69 distinct alleles with up to 25 alleles per individual. We also found considerable intron length variation and mismatches of alleles detected in cDNA and gDNA suggesting that some loci have undergone pseudogenization. Lastly, we created a model of protein structure homology for each allele and identified their key structural components. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, the Midas cichlid has one of the most diverse repertoires of MHC class IIB genes known, which could serve as a powerful tool to elucidate the process of divergent radiations, colonization and speciation in sympatry.
Project description:Cichlid fishes, with their repeated colonization of lakes and subsequent radiations at different scales of phylogenetic and ecological diversification, offer an excellent model system to understand the factors shaping the host-gut microbiota association in nature. Here, we characterized the gut microbiota of the Amphilophus species complex from Central America (known as the Midas cichlid complex), encompassing 158 wild specimens (13 species) collected from seven Nicaraguan lakes, and combined these data with previously published data from two African lakes (spanning 29 species). Our aim was to comprehensively explore trends in microbiota variation and persistence along the large spatial and temporal scales of cichlid diversification (from the oldest radiation in L. Tanganyika, 9-12 My old, to young ones in Nicaraguan crater lakes, <0.5 My old), in allopatry and sympatry (within and across lakes), and across the range of dietary niches (from highly specialized to generalist feeders). Despite their extraordinary diversity, cichlids shared a remarkably conserved microbial taxonomic profile, which argues for a primary role of the host genetics in the assembly and maintenance of these microbial communities. Within this partly constrained microbiota profile, geographic isolation (continent and lake) represented the first level of discrimination. For the Midas cichlid, a partial congruency was found between host microbiota and genetic distances, suggesting that microbial communities have partly diversified along their cichlid phylogeographic history of crater lake colonization. In sympatry (within lakes), the young and poorly ecologically diversified cichlid assemblages of Central American lakes display largely unresolved gut microbiotas (in terms of both alpha and beta diversities), whereas the phylogenetically and ecologically diverse species found in African lakes showed greater microbial interspecific diversity. This pattern largely points to the level of habitat segregation, trophic niche overlap, and reproductive barriers as major modulators of the gut microbiota connectivity among sympatric species.
Project description:Cichlid fishes are an ideal model system for studying biological diversification because they provide textbook examples of rapid speciation. To date, there has been little focus on the role of gene regulation during cichlid speciation. However, in recent years, gene regulation has been recognized as a powerful force linking diversification in gene function to speciation. Here, we investigated the potential role of miRNA regulation in the diversification of six cichlid species of the Midas cichlid lineage (Amphilophus spp.) inhabiting the Nicaraguan crater lakes. Using several genomic resources, we inferred 236 Midas miRNA genes that were used to predict the miRNA target sites on 8,232 Midas 3'-UTRs. Using population genomic calculations of SNP diversity, we found the miRNA genes to be more conserved than protein coding genes. In contrast to what has been observed in other cichlid fish, but similar to what has been typically found in other groups, we observed genomic signatures of purifying selection on the miRNA targets by comparing these sites with the less conserved nontarget portion of the 3'-UTRs. However, in one species pair that has putatively speciated sympatrically in crater Lake Apoyo, we recovered a different pattern of relaxed purifying selection and high genetic divergence at miRNA targets. Our results suggest that sequence evolution at miRNA binding sites could be a critical genomic mechanism contributing to the rapid phenotypic evolution of Midas cichlids.
Project description:The formation of species in the absence of geographic barriers (i.e. sympatric speciation) remains one of the most controversial topics in evolutionary biology. While theoretical models have shown that this most extreme case of primary divergence-with-gene-flow is possible, only a handful of accepted empirical examples exist. And even for the most convincing examples uncertainties remain; complex histories of isolation and secondary contact can make species falsely appear to have originated by sympatric speciation. This alternative scenario is notoriously difficult to rule out. Midas cichlids inhabiting small and remote crater lakes in Nicaragua are traditionally considered to be one of the best examples of sympatric speciation and lend themselves to test the different evolutionary scenarios that could lead to apparent sympatric speciation since the system is relatively small and the source populations known. Here we reconstruct the evolutionary history of two small-scale radiations of Midas cichlids inhabiting crater lakes Apoyo and Xiloá through a comprehensive genomic data set. We find no signs of differential admixture of any of the sympatric species in the respective radiations. Together with coalescent simulations of different demographic models our results support a scenario of speciation that was initiated in sympatry and does not result from secondary contact of already partly diverged populations. Furthermore, several species seem to have diverged simultaneously, making Midas cichlids an empirical example of multispecies outcomes of sympatric speciation. Importantly, however, the demographic models strongly support an admixture event from the source population into both crater lakes shortly before the onset of the radiations within the lakes. This opens the possibility that the formation of reproductive barriers involved in sympatric speciation was facilitated by genetic variants that evolved in a period of isolation between the initial founding population and the secondary migrants that came from the same source population. Thus, the exact mechanisms by which these species arose might be different from what had been thought before.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The enormous diversity found in East African cichlid fishes in terms of morphology, coloration, and behavior have made them a model for the study of speciation and adaptive evolution. In particular, haplochromine cichlids, by far the most species-rich lineage of cichlids, are a well-known textbook example for parallel evolution. Southwestern Uganda is an area of high tectonic activity, and is home to numerous crater lakes. Many Ugandan crater lakes were colonized, apparently independently, by a single lineage of haplochromine cichlids. Thereby, this system could be considered a natural experiment in which one can study the interaction between geographical isolation and natural selection promoting phenotypic diversification. RESULTS:We sampled 13 crater lakes and six potentially-ancestral older lakes and, using both mitochondrial and microsatellite markers, discovered strong genetic and morphological differentiation whereby (a) geographically close lakes tend to be genetically more similar and (b) three different geographic areas seem to have been colonized by three independent waves of colonization from the same source population. Using a geometric morphometric approach, we found that body shape elongation (i.e. a limnetic morphology) evolved repeatedly from the ancestral deeper-bodied benthic morphology in the clear and deep crater lake habitats. CONCLUSIONS:A pattern of strong genetic and morphological differentiation was observed in the Ugandan crater lakes. Our data suggest that body shape changes have repeatedly evolved into a more limnetic-like form in several Ugandan crater lakes after independent waves of colonization from the same source population. The observed morphological changes in crater lake cichlids are likely to result from a common selective regime.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Speciation often occurs in complex or uncertain temporal and spatial contexts. Processes such as reinforcement, allopatric divergence, and assortative mating can proceed at different rates and with different strengths as populations diverge. The Central American Midas cichlid fish species complex is an important case study for understanding the processes of speciation. Previous analyses have demonstrated that allopatric processes led to species formation among the lakes of Nicaragua as well as sympatric speciation that is occurring within at least one crater lake. However, since speciation is an ongoing process and sampling genetic diversity of such lineages can be biased by collection scheme or random factors, it is important to evaluate the robustness of conclusions drawn on individual time samples. RESULTS:In order to assess the validity and reliability of inferences based on different genetic samples, we have analyzed fish from several lakes in Nicaragua sampled at three different times over 16 years. In addition, this time series allows us to analyze the population genetic changes that have occurred between lakes, where allopatric speciation has operated, as well as between different species within lakes, some of which have originated by sympatric speciation. Focusing on commonly used genetic markers, we have analyzed both DNA sequences from the complete mitochondrial control region as well as nuclear DNA variation at ten microsatellite loci from these populations, sampled thrice in a 16 year time period, to develop a robust estimate of the population genetic history of these diversifying lineages. CONCLUSION:The conclusions from previous work are well supported by our comprehensive analysis. In particular, we find that the genetic diversity of derived crater lake populations is lower than that of the source population regardless of when and how each population was sampled. Furthermore, changes in various estimates of genetic diversity within lakes are minimal and provide no evidence for drastic changes during the last 20 years, supporting the hypothesis that the processes which have resulted in rapid speciation are primarily historical. In contrast, there is some evidence for ongoing evolution, particularly selection, in all lakes except crater Lake Masaya, perhaps reflecting the persistence of speciational processes. Importantly, we find that the crater Lake Apoyo population, for which strong evidence of sympatric speciation has been demonstrated, has lower genetic diversity than other crater lakes and the strongest evidence for ongoing selection.