Founder effects drive the genetic structure of passively dispersed aquatic invertebrates.
ABSTRACT: Populations of passively dispersed organisms in continental aquatic habitats typically show high levels of neutral genetic differentiation despite their high dispersal capabilities. Several evolutionary factors, including founder events, local adaptation, and life cycle features such as high population growth rates and the presence of propagule banks, have been proposed to be responsible for this paradox. Here, we have modeled the colonization process to assess the impact of migration rate, population growth rate, population size, local adaptation and life-cycle features on the population genetic structure in these organisms. Our simulations show that the strongest effect on population structure are persistent founder effects, resulting from the interaction of a few population founders, high population growth rates, large population sizes and the presence of diapausing egg banks. In contrast, the role of local adaptation, genetic hitchhiking and migration is limited to small populations in these organisms. Our results indicate that local adaptation could have different impact on genetic structure in different groups of zooplankters.
Project description:Small aquatic organisms harbour deep phylogeographic patterns and highly structured populations even at local scales. These patterns indicate restricted gene flow, despite these organisms' high dispersal abilities, and have been explained by a combination of (1) strong founder effects due to rapidly growing populations and very large population sizes, and (2) the development of diapausing egg banks and local adaptation, resulting in low effective gene flow, what is known as the Monopolization hypothesis. In this study, we build up on our understanding of the mitochondrial phylogeography of the halophilic rotifer Brachionus plicatilis in the Iberian Peninsula by both increasing the number of sampled ponds in areas where secondary contact is likely and doubling sample sizes. We analyzed partial mitochondrial sequences of 252 individuals. We found two deep mitochondrial DNA lineages differing in both their genetic diversity and the complexity of their phylogeographic structure. Our analyses suggest that several events of secondary contact between clades occurred after their expansion from glacial refugia. We found a pattern of isolation-by-distance, which we interpret as being the result of historical colonization events. We propose the existence of at least one glacial refugium in the SE of the Iberian Peninsula. Our findings challenge predictions of the Monopolization hypothesis, since coexistence (i.e., secondary contact) of divergent lineages in some ponds in the Iberian Peninsula is common. Our results indicate that phylogeographic structures in small organisms can be very complex and that gene flow between diverse lineages after population establishment can indeed occur.
Project description:Recent work on the diapausing egg banks of zooplankton, such as Daphnia (Crustacea: Anomopoda), indicates that these eggs can remain viable for decades while, theoretically, DNA can remain intact for even longer periods (i.e. centuries or millennia). We isolated diapausing eggs of Daphnia from a 30 m long sediment core taken from a hypereutrophic, northern German lake (Belauer See), with some eggs found in dated core material as old as 4500 years. Using microsatellite markers, we analysed the genetic structure of the resting eggs dated as old as ca. 200 years, and found that, although levels of heterozygosity remained remarkably stable, significant genetic differentiation (Nei's D = 0.36; F(ST) = 0.15) between recent and 'ancient' resting eggs (including allele frequency shifts and private alleles) was detected. These shifts represent either species-level changes in this complex (i.e. species-specific characters of ephippia are not always robust), or intraspecific shifts in genetic variation, or a combination of both. This study demonstrates that the egg banks of aquatic zooplankton can serve as repositories of both genetic (intrapopulational) and ecological (interspecific) information. The use of molecular markers, such as microsatellites, on diapausing egg/seed banks may open new avenues of enquiry related to tracking the long-term genetic (and/or species) shifts that are associated with long-term environmental changes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Outcrossing between populations can exert either positive or negative effects on offspring fitness. Cyclically parthenogenetic rotifers, like other continental zooplankters, show high genetic differentiation despite their high potential for passive dispersal. Within this context, the effects of outcrossing may be relevant in modulating gene flow between populations through selection for or against interpopulation hybrids. Nevertheless, these effects remain practically unexplored in rotifers. Here, the consequences of outcrossing on the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis were investigated. Cross-mating experiments were performed between a reference population and three alternative populations that differed in their genetic distance with regard to the former. Two offspring generations were obtained: F1 and BC ('backcross'). Fitness of the outcrossed offspring was compared with fitness of the offspring of the reference population for both generations and for three different between-population combinations. Four fitness components were measured throughout the rotifer life cycle: the diapausing egg-hatching proportion, clone viability (for the clones originating from diapausing eggs), initial net growth rate R for each viable clone, and the proportion of male-producing clones. Additionally, both the parental fertilisation proportion and a compound fitness measure, integrating the complete life cycle, were estimated. RESULTS: In the F1 generation, hybrid vigour was detected for the diapausing egg-hatching proportion, while R was lower in the outcrossed offspring than in the offspring of the reference population. Despite these contrasting results, hybrid vigour was globally observed for the compound measure of fitness. Moreover, there was evidence that this vigour could increase with the genetic differentiation of the outcrossed populations. In the BC generation, the hybrid vigour detected for the egg-hatching proportion in the F1 generation reverted to outbreeding depression. By contrast, signs of hybrid vigour were observed for clone viability and R. The opposing trends observed for different life-cycle stages yielded a global pattern of hybrid vigour in the BC generation for two out of the three between-population comparisons. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that outbreeding depression does not constitute a barrier to gene flow. In newly-founded populations, where the population size is still small, dilution of immigrants should be low. Thus, a lack of outbreeding depression would allow gene flow to have an impact on the genetic composition of these populations.
Project description:Understanding the colonisation process in zooplankton is crucial for successful restoration of aquatic ecosystems. Here, we analyzed the clonal and genetic structure of the cyclical parthenogenetic rotifer Brachionus plicatilis by following populations established in new temporary ponds during the first three hydroperiods. Rotifer populations established rapidly after first flooding, although colonisation was ongoing throughout the study. Multilocus genotypes from 7 microsatellite loci suggested that most populations (10 of 14) were founded by few clones. The exception was one of the four populations that persisted throughout the studied hydroperiods, where high genetic diversity in the first hydroperiod suggested colonisation from a historical egg bank, and no increase in allelic diversity was detected with time. In contrast, in another of these four populations, we observed a progressive increase of allelic diversity. This population became less differentiated from the other populations suggesting effective gene flow soon after its foundation. Allelic diversity and richness remained low in the remaining two, more isolated, populations, suggesting little gene flow. Our results highlight the complexity of colonisation dynamics, with evidence for persistent founder effects in some ponds, but not in others, and with early immigration both from external source populations, and from residual, historical diapausing egg banks.
Project description:The biodiversity of Mediterranean freshwater bodies is among the most threatened worldwide; therefore, its accurate estimation is an urgent issue. However, traditional methods are likely to underestimate freshwater zooplankton biodiversity due to its high species seasonality and cryptic diversity. We test the value of applying DNA barcoding to diapausing egg banks, in combination with the creation of a reference collection of DNA barcodes using adult individual samples, to characterize rotifer communities. We use monogonont rotifers from two lakes in Doñana National Park and one from Ruidera Natural Park in Spain as models to create a reference collection of DNA barcodes for taxonomically diagnosed adult individuals sampled from the water column, to compare with the sequences obtained from individual eggs from the diapausing egg banks. We apply two different approaches to carry out DNA taxonomy analyses, the generalized mixed Yule coalescent method (GMYC) and the Automatic Barcode Gap Discovery (ABGD), to the obtained sequences and to publicly available rotifer sequences. We obtained a total of 210 new rotifer COI sequences from all three locations (151 diapausing eggs and 59 adults). Both GMYC and ABGD generated the same 35 operational taxonomic units (OTUs), revealing four potential cryptic species. Most sequences obtained from diapausing eggs (85%) clustered with sequences obtained from morphologically diagnosed adults. Our approach, based on a single sediment sample, retrieved estimates of rotifer biodiversity higher than or similar to those of previous studies based on a number of seasonal samples. This study shows that DNA barcoding of diapausing egg banks is an effective aid to characterize rotifer diversity in Mediterranean freshwater bodies.
Project description:Understanding the genetic basis of local adaptation has long been a focus of evolutionary biology. Recently, there has been increased interest in deciphering the evolutionary role of Daphnia's plasticity and the molecular mechanisms of local adaptation. Using transcriptome data, we assessed the differences in gene expression profiles and sequences in four European Daphnia galeata populations. In total, ~33% of 32,903 transcripts were differentially expressed between populations. Among 10,280 differentially expressed transcripts, 5,209 transcripts deviated from neutral expectations and their population-specific expression pattern is likely the result of local adaptation processes. Furthermore, a SNP analysis allowed inferring population structure and distribution of genetic variation. The population divergence at the sequence level was comparatively higher than the gene expression level by several orders of magnitude consistent with strong founder effects and lack of gene flow between populations. Using sequence homology, the candidate transcripts were annotated using a comparative genomics approach. Additionally, we also performed a weighted gene co-expression analysis to identify population-specific regulatory patterns of transcripts in D. galeata. Thus, we identified candidate transcriptomic regions for local adaptation in this key species of aquatic ecosystems in the absence of any laboratory-induced stressor.
Project description:The tadpole shrimp, Triops cancriformis, is a freshwater crustacean listed as endangered in the UK and Europe living in ephemeral pools. Populations are threatened by habitat destruction due to land development for agriculture and increased urbanisation. Despite this, there is a lack of efficient methods for discovering and monitoring populations. Established macroinvertebrate monitoring methods, such as net sampling, are unsuitable given the organism's life history, that include long lived diapausing eggs, benthic habits and ephemerally active populations. Conventional hatching methods, such as sediment incubation, are both time consuming and potentially confounded by bet-hedging hatching strategies of diapausing eggs. Here we develop a new molecular diagnostic method to detect viable egg banks of T. cancriformis, and compare its performance to two conventional monitoring methods involving diapausing egg hatching. We apply this method to a collection of pond sediments from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve, which holds one of the two remaining British populations of T. cancriformis. DNA barcoding of isolated eggs, using newly designed species-specific primers for a large region of mtDNA, was used to estimate egg viability. These estimates were compared to those obtained by the conventional methods of sediment and isolation hatching. Our method outperformed the conventional methods, revealing six ponds holding viable T. cancriformis diapausing egg banks in Caerlaverock. Additionally, designed species-specific primers for a short region of mtDNA identified degraded, inviable eggs and were used to ascertain the levels of recent mortality within an egg bank. Together with efficient sugar flotation techniques to extract eggs from sediment samples, our molecular method proved to be a faster and more powerful alternative for assessing the viability and condition of T. cancriformis diapausing egg banks.
Project description:Gene flow has the potential to both constrain and facilitate adaptation to local environmental conditions. The early stages of population divergence can be unstable because of fluctuating levels of gene flow. Investigating temporal variation in gene flow during the initial stages of population divergence can therefore provide insights to the role of gene flow in adaptive evolution. Since the recent colonization of Lake Lesjaskogsvatnet in Norway by European grayling (Thymallus thymallus), local populations have been established in over 20 tributaries. Multiple founder events appear to have resulted in reduced neutral variation. Nevertheless, there is evidence for local adaptation in early life-history traits to different temperature regimes. In this study, microsatellite data from almost a decade of sampling were assessed to infer population structuring and its temporal stability. Several alternative analyses indicated that spatial variation explained 2-3 times more of the divergence in the system than temporal variation. Over all samples and years, there was a significant correlation between genetic and geographic distance. However, decomposed pairwise regression analysis revealed differing patterns of genetic structure among local populations and indicated that migration outweighs genetic drift in the majority of populations. In addition, isolation by distance was observable in only three of the six years, and signals of population bottlenecks were observed in the majority of samples. Combined, the results suggest that habitat-specific adaptation in this system has preceded the development of consistent population substructuring in the face of high levels of gene flow from divergent environments.
Project description:Dormancy is a bet-hedging strategy that allows organisms to persist through conditions that are suboptimal for growth and reproduction by entering a reversible state of reduced metabolic activity. Dormancy allows a population to maintain a reservoir of genetic and phenotypic diversity (i.e., a seed bank) that can contribute to the long-term survival of a population. This strategy can be potentially adaptive and has long been of interest to ecologists and evolutionary biologists. However, comparatively little is known about how dormancy influences the fundamental evolutionary forces of genetic drift, mutation, selection, recombination, and gene flow. Here, we investigate how seed banks affect the processes underpinning evolution by reviewing existing theory, implementing novel simulations, and determining how and when dormancy can influence evolution as a population genetic process. We extend our analysis to examine how seed banks can alter macroevolutionary processes, including rates of speciation and extinction. Through the lens of population genetic theory, we can understand the extent that seed banks influence the evolutionary dynamics of microorganisms as well as other taxa.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Management strategies for coral reefs are dependant on information about the spatial population structure and connectivity of reef organisms. Genetic tools can reveal important information about population structure, however, this information is lacking for many reef species. We used a mitochondrial molecular marker to examine the population genetic structure and the potential for meta-population dynamics in a direct developing coral reef fish using 283 individuals from 15 reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. We employed a hierarchical sampling design to test genetic models of population structure at multiple geographical scales including among regions, among shelf position and reefs within regions. Predictions from island, isolation-by-distance and meta-population models, including the potential for asymmetric migration, local extinction and patterns of re-colonisation were examined. RESULTS:Acanthochromis polyacanthus displayed strong genetic structure among regions (PhiST = 0.81, P < 0.0001) that supported an equilibrium isolation-by-distance model (r = 0.77, P = 0.001). Significant structuring across the continental shelf was only evident in the northern region (PhiST = 0.31, P < 0.001) and no evidence of isolation-by-distance was found within any region. Pairwise PhiST values indicated overall strong but variable genetic structure (mean PhiST among reefs within regions = 0.28, 0.38, 0.41), and asymmetric migration rates among reefs with low genetic structure. Genetic differentiation among younger reefs was greater than among older reefs supporting a meta-population propagule-pool colonisation model. Variation in genetic diversities, demographic expansion and population growth estimates indicated more frequent genetic bottlenecks/founder effects and subsequent population expansion in the central and southern regions compared to the northern one. CONCLUSION:Our findings provide genetic evidence for meta-population dynamics in a direct developing coral reef fish and we reject the equilibrium island and isolation-by distance models at local spatial scales. Instead, strong non-equilibrium genetic structure appears to be generated by genetic bottlenecks/founder effects associated with population reductions/extinctions and asymmetric migration/(re)-colonisation of such populations. These meta-population dynamics varied across the geographical range examined with edge populations exhibiting lower genetic diversities and higher rates of population expansion than more central populations. Therefore, coral reef species may experience local population reductions/extinctions that promote overall meta-population genetic differentiation.