Year of publication
- Short read Illumina data for the de novo assembly of a non-model snail species transcriptome (Radix balthica, Basommatophora, Pulmonata), and a comparison of assembler performance (2011)
- Background: Until recently, read lengths on the Solexa/Illumina system were too short to reliably assemble transcriptomes without a reference sequence, especially for non-model organisms. However, with read lengths up to 100 nucleotides available in the current version, an assembly without reference genome should be possible. For this study we created an EST data set for the common pond snail Radix balthica by Illumina sequencing of a normalized transcriptome. Performance of three different short read assemblers was compared with respect to: the number of contigs, their length, depth of coverage, their quality in various BLAST searches and the alignment to mitochondrial genes. Results: A single sequencing run of a normalized RNA pool resulted in 16,923,850 paired end reads with median read length of 61 bases. The assemblies generated by VELVET, OASES, and SeqMan NGEN differed in the total number of contigs, contig length, the number and quality of gene hits obtained by BLAST searches against various databases, and contig performance in the mt genome comparison. While VELVET produced the highest overall number of contigs, a large fraction of these were of small size (< 200bp), and gave redundant hits in BLAST searches and the mt genome alignment. The best overall contig performance resulted from the NGEN assembly. It produced the second largest number of contigs, which on average were comparable to the OASES contigs but gave the highest number of gene hits in two out of four BLAST searches against different reference databases. A subsequent meta-assembly of the four contig sets resulted in larger contigs, less redundancy and a higher number of BLAST hits. Conclusion: Our results document the first de novo transcriptome assembly of a non-model species using Illumina sequencing data. We show that de novo transcriptome assembly using this approach yields results useful for downstream applications, in particular if a meta-assembly of contig sets is used to increase contig quality. These results highlight the ongoing need for improvements in assembly methodology. Keywords: next generation sequencing; short read assembly; Mollusca
- Phylogeography of a land snail suggests trans-Mediterranean neolithic transport (2011)
- Background: Fragmented distribution ranges of species with little active dispersal capacity raise the question about their place of origin and the processes and timing of either range fragmentation or dispersal. The peculiar distribution of the land snail Tudorella sulcata s. str. in Southern France, Sardinia and Algeria is such a challenging case. Methodology: Statistical phylogeographic analyses with mitochondrial COI and nuclear hsp70 haplotypes were used to answer the questions of the species' origin, sequence and timing of dispersal. The origin of the species was on Sardinia. Starting from there, a first expansion to Algeria and then to France took place. Abiotic and zoochorous dispersal could be excluded by considering the species' life style, leaving only anthropogenic translocation as parsimonious explanation. The geographic expansion could be dated to approximately 8,000 years before present with a 95% confidence interval of 10,000 to 3,000 years before present. Conclusions: This period coincides with the Neolithic expansion in the Western Mediterranean, suggesting a role of these settlers as vectors. Our findings thus propose that non-domesticated animals and plants may give hints on the direction and timing of early human expansion routes.
- When Indian crabs were not yet Asian - biogeographic evidence for Eocene proximity of India and Southeast Asia (2010)
- Background: The faunal and floral relationship of northward-drifting India with its neighboring continents is of general biogeographic interest as an important driver of regional biodiversity. However, direct biogeographic connectivity of India and Southeast Asia during the Cenozoic remains largely unexplored. We investigate timing, direction and mechanisms of faunal exchange between India and Southeast Asia, based on a molecular phylogeny, molecular clock-derived time estimates and biogeographic reconstructions of the Asian freshwater crab family Gecarcinucidae. Results: Although the Gecarcinucidae are not an element of an ancient Gondwana fauna, their subfamily Gecarcinucinae, and probably also the Liotelphusinae, evolved on the Indian Subcontinent and subsequently dispersed to Southeast Asia. Estimated by a model testing approach, this dispersal event took place during the Middle Eocene, and thus before the final collision of India and the Tibet-part of Eurasia. Conclusions: We postulate that the India and Southeast Asia were close enough for exchange of freshwater organisms during the Middle Eocene, before the final Indian--Eurasian collision. Our data support geological models that assume the Indian plate having tracked along Southeast Asia during its move northwards.
- Cryptic animal species are homogeneously distributed among taxa and biogeographical regions (2007)
- Background Cryptic species are two or more distinct but morphologically similar species that were classified as a single species. During the past two decades we observed an exponential growth of publications on cryptic species. Recently published reviews have demonstrated cryptic species have profound consequences on many biological disciplines. It has been proposed that their distribution is non-random across taxa and biomes. Results We analysed a literature database for the taxonomic and biogeographical distribution of cryptic animal species reports. Results from regression analysis indicate that cryptic species are almost evenly distributed among major metazoan taxa and biogeographical regions when corrected for species richness and study intensity. Conclusion This indicates that morphological stasis represents an evolutionary constant and that cryptic metazoan diversity does predictably affect estimates of earth´s animal diversity. Our findings have direct theoretical and practical consequences for a number of prevailing biological questions with regard to global biodiversity estimates, conservation efforts and global taxonomic initiatives.
- Phenotypic evolution and hidden speciation in Candidula unifasciata ssp. (Helicellinae, Gastropoda) inferred by 16S variation and quantitative shell traits (2001)
- In an effort to link quantitative morphometric information with molecular data on the population level, we have analysed 19 populations of the conchologically variable land snail Candidula unifasciata from across the species range for variation in quantitative shell traits and at the mitochondrial 16S ribosomal (r)DNA locus. In genetic analysis, including 21 additional populations, we observed two fundamental haplotype clades with an average pairwise sequence divergence of 0.209 ± 0.009 between clades compared to 0.017 ± 0.012 within clades, suggesting the presence of two different evolutionary lineages. Integrating additional shell material from the Senckenberg Malacological Collection, a highly significant discriminant analysis on the morphological shell traits with fundamental haplotype clades as grouping variable suggested that the less frequent haplotype corresponds to the described subspecies C. u. rugosiuscula, which we propose to regard as a distinct species. Both taxa were highly subdivided genetically (FST = 0.648 and 0.777 P < 0.001). This was contrasted by the partition of morphological variance, where only 29.6% and 21.9% of the variance were distributed among populations, respectively. In C. unifasciata, no significant association between population pairwise FST estimates and corresponding morphological fixation indices could be detected, indicating independent evolution of the two character sets. Partial least square analysis of environmental factors against shell trait variables in C. u. unifasciata revealed significant correlations between environmental factors and certain quantitative shell traits, whose potential adaptational values are discussed.
- Isolation by distance in a population of a small land snail Trochoidea geyeri: evidence from direct and indirect methods (1996)
- Population structure was estimated in a continuous population of a small land snail (Trochoidea geyeri). Mark-recapture experiments and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA analyses indicate that the population structure can be described by the isolation by distance model of Wright (1946). Estimates of density and dispersal suggest a neighbourhood size of 70-208 individuals on an area of 13-21 m 2 . A principal component analysis of the randomly amplified polymorphic DNA data reveals clinal variation of genetic composition across the population, as predicted by the neighbourhood concept. An analysis of molecular variance indicates substantial genetic structuring. Comparisons of the genetic distances, expressed as euclidean distances among individuals, versus the geographic distance between sampling sites yield a highly significant positive correlation (Mantel test: r = 0.567, p<0.0001). The revealed pattern of populational subdivision on a microgeographic scale seems to be one of the principal processes generating and maintaining genetic diversity within populations of small land gastropods.
- Relationship between microspatial population genetic structure and habitat heterogeneity in Pomatias elegans (O.F. Müller 1774) (Caenogastropoda, Pomatiasidae) (2002)
- In the present study the population genetic structure of the terrestrial snail Pomatias elegans was related to habitat structure on a microspatial scale. The genetic variability of 1607 individuals from 51 sampling sites in five different populations in Provence, France, was studied with an allozyme marker using population genetic methods, Mantel tests and spatial autocorrelation techniques were applied to different connectivity networks accounting for the structural features of the landscape. It is suggested that the population structure is, to a large extent, a function of the habitat quality, quantified as population density, and of the spatial arrangement of the habitat in the landscape and not of the geographical distance per se. In fragmented habitats, random genetic drift was the prevailing force for sampling sites separated by a few hundred meters.
- Comparing the efficacy of morphologic and DNA-based taxonomy in the freshwater gastropod genus Radix (Basommatophora, Pulmonata) (2006)
- Background Reliable taxonomic identification at the species level is the basis for many biological disciplines. In order to distinguish species, it is necessary that taxonomic characters allow for the separation of individuals into recognisable, homogeneous groups that differ from other such groups in a consistent way. We compared here the suitability and efficacy of traditionally used shell morphology and DNA-based methods to distinguish among species of the freshwater snail genus Radix (Basommatophora, Pulmonata). Results Morphometric analysis showed that shell shape was unsuitable to define homogeneous, recognisable entities, because the variation was continuous. On the other hand, the Molecularly defined Operational Taxonomic Units (MOTU), inferred from mitochondrial COI sequence variation, proved to be congruent with biological species, inferred from geographic distribution patterns, congruence with nuclear markers and crossing experiments. Moreover, it could be shown that the phenotypically plastic shell variation is mostly determined by the environmental conditions experienced. Conclusion Contrary to DNA-taxonomy, shell morphology was not suitable for delimiting and recognising species in Radix. As the situation encountered here seems to be widespread in invertebrates, we propose DNA-taxonomy as a reliable, comparable, and objective means for species identification in biological research.
- Dynamic microsatellites in transcribed regions of gastropod mitochondrial 16S rDNA (2001)
- Length variations of repetitive sequences in different AT-rich loop-coding regions of mitochondrial 16S rDNA in two gastropod species were discovered during intraspecific haplotype surveys. Examination of the discrete length variation of the basic repeat unit in a phylogenetic framework led to the conclusion of a microsatellite-like mutational dynamic. The observations suggest that the presence of a repetitive sequence structure alone is sufficient to trigger this dynamic.
- Comparative analysis of range sizes in Helicidae s.l. (Pulmonata, Gastropoda) (2004)
- I analysed the importance of shell size, shell shape, habitat preferences and availability, experienced climate, active dispersal and influence of Pleistocene glaciations for the range sizes of 37 Western Palaearctic Helicidae s.l. species for which a phylogeny was available. In both cross-species and phylogenetically controlled analyses, the range sizes were positively correlated to climatic tolerance, shell size, active dispersal and influence of Pleistocene glaciations. In addition, range sizes increased significantly with latitude. Multiple regression suggested that, predominantly, the influence of Pleistocene glaciations, tolerance to large annual temperature ranges and shell size influenced the distributional range sizes. Habitat preference, range and availability, active dispersal and shell shape explained no additional variance. The results suggest that the processes influencing species range size of the Helicidae s.l. are mainly related to the climatic shifts after the Pleistocene.