Year of publication
- 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.
- Why do snails have hairs? A Bayesian inference of character evolution (2005)
- Background: Costly structures need to represent an adaptive advantage in order to be maintained over evolutionary times. Contrary to many other conspicuous shell ornamentations of gastropods, the haired shells of several Stylommatophoran land snails still lack a convincing adaptive explanation. In the present study, we analysed the correlation between the presence/absence of hairs and habitat conditions in the genus Trochulus in a Bayesian framework of character evolution. Results: Haired shells appeared to be the ancestral character state, a feature most probably lost three times independently. These losses were correlated with a shift from humid to dry habitats, indicating an adaptive function of hairs in moist environments. It had been previously hypothesised that these costly protein structures of the outer shell layer facilitate the locomotion in moist habitats. Our experiments, on the contrary, showed an increased adherence of haired shells to wet surfaces. Conclusion: We propose the hypothesis that the possession of hairs facilitates the adherence of the snails to their herbaceous food plants during foraging when humidity levels are high. The absence of hairs in some Trochulus species could thus be explained as a loss of the potential adaptive function linked to habitat shifts.
- Reproductive isolation and ecological niche partition among larvae of the morphologically cryptic sister species Chironomus riparius and C. piger (2008)
- Background One of the central issues in ecology is the question what allows sympatric occurrence of closely related species in the same general area? The non-biting midges Chironomus riparius and C. piger, interbreeding in the laboratory, have been shown to coexist frequently despite of their close relatedness, similar ecology and high morphological similarity. Methodology/Principal Findings In order to investigate factors shaping niche partitioning of these cryptic sister species, we explored the actual degree of reproductive isolation in the field. Congruent results from nuclear microsatellite and mitochondrial haplotype analyses indicated complete absence of interspecific gene-flow. Autocorrelation analysis showed a non-random spatial distribution of the two species. Though not dispersal limited at the scale of the study area, the sister species occurred less often than expected at the same site, indicating past or present competition. Correlation and multiple regression analyses suggested the repartition of the available habitat along water chemistry gradients (nitrite, conductivity, CaCO3), ultimately governed by differences in summer precipitation regime. Conclusions We show that these morphologically cryptic sister species partition their niches due to a certain degree of ecological distinctness and total reproductive isolation in the field. The coexistence of these species provides a suitable model system for the investigation of factors shaping the distribution of closely related, cryptic species.
- A species delimitation approach in the Trochulus sericeus/hispidus complex reveals two cryptic species with a sharp contact zone (2009)
- Background Mitochondrial DNA sequencing increasingly results in the recognition of genetically divergent, but morphologically cryptic lineages. Species delimitation approaches that rely on multiple lines of evidence in areas of co-occurrence are particularly powerful to infer their specific status. We investigated the species boundaries of two cryptic lineages of the land snail genus Trochulus in a contact zone, using mitochondrial and nuclear DNA marker as well as shell morphometrics. Results Both mitochondrial lineages have a distinct geographical distribution with a small zone of co-occurrence. In the same area, we detected two nuclear genotype clusters, each being highly significantly associated to one mitochondrial lineage. This association however had exceptions: a small number of individuals in the contact zone showed intermediate genotypes (4%) or cytonuclear disequilibrium (12%). Both mitochondrial lineage and nuclear cluster were statistically significant predictors for the shell shape indicating morphological divergence. Nevertheless, the lineage morphospaces largely overlapped (low posterior classification success rate of 69% and 78%, respectively): the two lineages are truly cryptic. Conclusions The integrative approach using multiple lines of evidence supported the hypothesis that the investigated Trochulus lineages are reproductively isolated species. In the small contact area, however, the lineages hybridise to a limited extent. This detection of a hybrid zone adds an instance to the rare reported cases of hybridisation in land snails.
- 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.
- Factors and processes shaping the population structure and distribution of genetic variation across the species range of the freshwater snail Radix balthica (Pulmonata, Basommatophora) (2011)
- Background: Factors and processes shaping the population structure and spatial distribution of genetic diversity across a species' distribution range are important in determining the range limits. We comprehensively analysed the influence of recurrent and historic factors and processes on the population genetic structure, mating system and the distribution of genetic variability of the pulmonate freshwater snail Radix balthica. This analysis was based on microsatellite variation and mitochondrial haplotypes using Generalised Linear Statistical Modelling in a Model Selection framework. Results: Populations of R. balthica were found throughout North-Western Europe with range margins marked either by dispersal barriers or the presence of other Radix taxa. Overall, the population structure was characterised by distance independent passive dispersal mainly along a Southwest-Northeast axis, the absence of isolation-by-distance together with rather isolated and genetically depauperated populations compared to the variation present in the entire species due to strong local drift. A recent, climate driven range expansion explained most of the variance in genetic variation, reducing at least temporarily the genetic variability in this area. Other factors such as geographic marginality and dispersal barriers play only a minor role. Conclusions: To our knowledge, such a population structure has rarely been reported before. It might nevertheless be typical for passively dispersed, patchily distributed taxa (e.g. freshwater invertebrates). The strong local drift implied in such a structure is expected to erode genetic variation at both neutral and coding loci and thus probably diminish evolutionary potential. This study shows that the analysis of multiple factors is crucial for the inference of the processes shaping the distribution of genetic variation throughout species ranges. Additional files Additional file 1: Distribution of Radix taxa. Spatial distribution of the Radix MOTU as defined in Pfenninger et al. 2006 plus an additional, newly discovered taxon. This map is the basis for the inference of the species range of R. balthica. Additional file 2: Sampling site table and spatial distribution of diversity indices, selfing estimates and inferred population bottlenecks for R. balthica. Table of sampling site code, geographical position in decimal degrees latitude and longitude, number of individuals analysed with microsatellites (Nnuc), expected heterozygosity (HE) and standard deviation across loci, mean rarefied number of alleles per microsatellite locus (A) and their standard deviation, number of individuals analysed for mitochondrial variation (Nmt), rarefied number of mitochondrial COI haplotypes (Hmt), number of individuals measured for body size (Nsize). Figures A1 - A3 show a graphical representation of the spatial distribution of He, Hmt and, s, respectively. Additional file 3: Assessment of environmental marginality. PCA (principle component analysis) on 35 climatic parameters for the period from 1960 - 2000 from publicly availableWorldClim data. Additional file 4: Inference of a recent climate driven range expansion in R. balthica. Analysis of the freshwater benthos long term monitoring data of the Swedish national monitoring databases at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences SLU with canonical correspondence analysis.
- 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.
- Methodological framework for projecting the potential loss of intraspecific genetic diversity due to global climate change (2012)
- Background: While research on the impact of global climate change (GCC) on ecosystems and species is flourishing, a fundamental component of biodiversity -- molecular variation -- has not yet received its due attention in such studies. Here we present a methodological framework for projecting the loss of intraspecific genetic diversity due to GCC. Methods: The framework consists of multiple steps that and combines 1) hierarchical genetic clustering methods to define comparable units of inference, 2) species accumulation curves (SAC) to infer sampling completeness, and 3) species distribution modelling (SDM) to project the genetic diversity loss under GCC. We suggest procedures for existing data sets as well as specifically designed studies. We illustrate the approach with two worked examples from a land snail (Trochulus villosus) and a caddisfly (Smicridea (S.) mucronata). Results: Sampling completeness was diagnosed on the third most coarse haplotype clade level for T. villosus and the second most coarse for S. mucronata. For both species, a substantial species range loss was projected under the chosen climate scenario. However, despite substantial differences in data set quality concerning spatial sampling and sampling depth, no loss of haplotype clades due to GCC was predicted for either species. Conclusions: The suggested approach presents a feasible method to tap the rich resources of existing phylogeographic data sets and guide the design and analysis of studies explicitly designed to estimate the impact of GCC on a currently still neglected level of biodiversity.
- Genomic basis of ecological niche divergence among cryptic sister species of non-biting midges (2013)
- Background: There is a lack of understanding the evolutionary forces driving niche segregation of closely related organisms. In addition, pinpointing the genes driving ecological divergence is a key goal in molecular ecology. Here, larval transcriptome sequences obtained by next-generation-sequencing are used to address these issues in a morphologically cryptic sister species pair of non-biting midges (Chironomus riparius and C. piger). Results: More than eight thousand orthologous open reading frames were screened for interspecific divergence and intraspecific polymorphisms. Despite a small mean sequence divergence of 1.53% between the sister species, 25.1% of 18,115 observed amino acid substitutions were inferred by α statistics to be driven by positive selection. Applying McDonald-Kreitman tests to 715 alignments of gene orthologues identified eleven (1.5%) genes driven by positive selection. Conclusions: Three candidate genes were identified as potentially responsible for the observed niche segregation concerning nitrite concentration, habitat temperature and water conductivity. Additionally, signs of positive selection in the hydrogen sulfide detoxification pathway were detected, providing a new plausible hypothesis for the species’ ecological differentiation. Finally, a divergently selected, nuclear encoded mitochondrial ribosomal protein may contribute to reproductive isolation due to cytonuclear coevolution.
- 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