Year of publication
- 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.
- Evidence for survival of Pleistocene climatic changes in Northern refugia by the land snail Trochoidea geyeri (Soós 1926) (Helicellinae, Stylommatophora) (2003)
- The study of organisms with restricted dispersal abilities and presence in the fossil record is particularly adequate to understand the impact of climate changes on the distribution and genetic structure of species. Trochoidea geyeri (Soós 1926) is a land snail restricted to a patchy, insular distribution in Germany and France. Fossil evidence suggests that current populations of T. geyeri are relicts of a much more widespread distribution during more favourable climatic periods in the Pleistocene. Results: Phylogeographic analysis of the mitochondrial 16S rDNA and nuclear ITS-1 sequence variation was used to infer the history of the remnant populations of T. geyeri. Nested clade analysis for both loci suggested that the origin of the species is in the Provence from where it expanded its range first to Southwest France and subsequently from there to Germany. Estimated divergence times predating the last glacial maximum between 25–17 ka implied that the colonization of the northern part of the current species range occurred during the Pleistocene. Conclusion: We conclude that T. geyeri could quite successfully persist in cryptic refugia during major climatic changes in the past, despite of a restricted capacity of individuals to actively avoid unfavourable conditions.
- 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.
- 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.