Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
The rediscovery of a long described species reveals additional complexity in speciation patterns of poeciliid fishes in sulfide springs
- The process of ecological speciation drives the evolution of locally adapted and reproductively isolated populations in response to divergent natural selection. In Southern Mexico, several lineages of the freshwater fish species of the genus Poecilia have independently colonized toxic, hydrogen sulfide-rich springs. Even though ecological speciation processes are increasingly well understood in this system, aligning the taxonomy of these fish with evolutionary processes has lagged behind. While some sulfide spring populations are classified as ecotypes of Poecilia mexicana, others, like P. sulphuraria, have been described as highly endemic species. Our study particularly focused on elucidating the taxonomy of the long described sulfide spring endemic, Poecilia thermalis Steindachner 1863, and investigates if similar evolutionary patterns of phenotypic trait divergence and reproductive isolation are present as observed in other sulfidic species of Poecilia. We applied a geometric morphometric approach to assess body shape similarity to other sulfidic and non-sulfidic fish of the genus Poecilia. We also conducted phylogenetic and population genetic analyses to establish the phylogenetic relationships of P. thermalis and used a population genetic approach to determine levels of gene flow among Poecilia from sulfidic and non-sulfidic sites. Our results indicate that P. thermalis' body shape has evolved in convergence with other sulfide spring populations in the genus. Phylogenetic analyses placed P. thermalis as most closely related to one population of P. sulphuraria, and population genetic analyses demonstrated that P. thermalis is genetically isolated from both P. mexicana ecotypes and P. sulphuraria. Based on these findings, we make taxonomic recommendations for P. thermalis. Overall, our study verifies the role of hydrogen sulfide as a main factor shaping convergent, phenotypic evolution and the emergence of reproductive isolation between Poecilia populations residing in adjacent sulfidic and non-sulfidic environments.
Genomic basis of ecological niche divergence among cryptic sister species of non-biting midges
- 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.
Movement behaviour and seed dispersal patterns of trumpeter hornbills (Bycanistes bucinator) in fragmented landscapes
- Long-distance seed dispersal is a crucial process allowing the dispersal of fleshy-fruited tree species among forest fragments. In particular, large frugivorous bird species have a high potential to provide inter-patch and long-distance seed transport, both important for maintaining fundamental genetic and demographic processes of plant populations in isolated forest fragments. In the face of increasing worldwide forest fragmentation, the investigation of long-distance seed dispersal and the factors influencing seed dispersal processes has recently become a central issue in ecology. In my thesis, I studied the movement behaviour and the seed dispersal patterns of the trumpeter hornbill (Bycanistes bucinator), a large obligate frugivorous bird, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. I investigated (i) the potential of trumpeter hornbills to provide long-distance seed dispersal within different landscape structures, (ii) seasonal variations in ranging behaviour of this species, and (iii) the potential of this species to enhance the functional connectivity of a fragmented landscape. I used highresolution GPS-data loggers to record temporally and spatially fine-scaled movement data of trumpeter hornbills within both continuous forests and fragmented agricultural landscapes during the breeding- and the non-breeding season. First, combining these data with data on seed-retention times, I calculated seed dispersal kernels, able to distinguish between seed dispersal kernels from the continuous forests and those from the fragmented agricultural landscapes. The seed dispersal distributions showed a generally high ability of trumpeter hornbills to generate seed transport over a distance of more than 100 m and for potential dispersal distances of up to 14.5 km. Seed dispersal distributions were considerably different between the two landscape types, with a bimodal distribution showing larger dispersal distances for fragmented agricultural landscapes and a unimodal one for continuous forests. My results showed that the landscape structure strongly influenced the movement behaviour of trumpeter hornbills, and this variation in behaviour is likely reflected in the shape of the seed dispersal distributions. Second, for each individual bird I calculated daily ranges and investigated differences in daily ranging behaviour and in the process of range expansion comparatively between the breeding- and the non-breeding season. I considered differences in habitat use and possible consequences resulting for seed dispersal function during different seasons. I found that within the breeding season multi-day ranges were built from strongly overlapping and nearly stationary daily ranges which were almost completely restricted to continuous forest. In the non-breeding season, however, birds assembled multi-day ranges by shifting their range site to a generally different area, frequently utilizing the fragmented agricultural landscape. Thereby, several small daily ranges and few large daily ranges composed larger multi-day ranges within the non-breeding season. Seasonal differences in ranging behaviour and range assembly processes resulted in important consequences for seed dispersal function, with short distances and less spatial variation during the breeding season and more inter-patch dispersal across the fragmented landscape during the non-breeding season. Last, I used a projection of simulated seed dispersal events on a high-resolution habitat map to assess the extent to which trumpeter hornbills potentially facilitate functional connectivity between plant populations of isolated forest fragments. About 7% of dispersal events resulted in potential between-patch dispersal and trumpeter hornbills connected a network of about 100 forest patches with an overall extent of about 50 km. Trumpeter hornbills increased the potential of functional connectivity of the landscape more than twofold and seed dispersal pathways revealed certain forest patches as important stepping-stones for seed dispersal among forest fragments. Overall, my study highlights the overriding role that large frugivorous bird species, like trumpeter hornbills, play in seed dispersal in fragmented landscapes. In addition, it shows the importance of fine-scaled movement data combined with high-resolution habitat data and consideration of different landscape structures and seasonality for a comprehensive understanding of seed dispersal function.
Adaptive Radiation und Zoogeographie anisakider Nematoden verschiedener Klimazonen und Ozeane
- Anisakide Nematoden sind Parasiten aquatischer Organismen und weltweit in marinen Habitaten verbreitet. Ihre Übertragungswege sind tief im marinen Nahrungsnetz verwurzelt und schließen ein breites Spektrum pelagisch/benthischer Invertebraten (z.B. Cephalopoda, Gastropoda, Crustacea, Polychaeta) und Vertebraten (z.B. Teleostei, Elasmobranchia, Cetacea, Pinnipedia, Aves) als Zwischen- bzw. Endwirte ein. Aufgrund der hohen Befallszahlen u.a. in der Muskulatur und Viszera kommerziell intensiv genutzter Fischarten (z.B. Clupea harengus, Gadus morhua, Salmo salar) sowie ihrer Rolle als Auslöser der menschlichen Anisakiasis nehmen die Vertreter der Gattung Anisakis unter den anisakiden Nematoden eine Sonderstellung ein. Anhand der verbesserten Diagnostik und der Etablierung sowie Weiterentwicklung molekularbiologischer Methoden ist es in den letzten zwei Dekaden gelungen, die bestehende Taxonomie und Systematik der Gattung Anisakis zu erweitern bzw. zu revidieren. Aktuelle molekulare Analysen weisen auf die Existenz von insgesamt neun distinkten Arten hin, welche eine hohe genetische Heterogenität und Wirtsspezifität aufweisen, äußerlich jedoch nahezu identisch sind (sog. kryptische Arten). Trotz kontinuierlicher Forschung auf dem Gebiet ist das Wissen über die Biologie von Anisakis immer noch unzureichend.
Die vorliegende Dissertation ist in kumulativer Form verfasst und umfasst drei (ISI-) Einzelpublikationen. Die Zielsetzung der durchgeführten Studien bestand unter anderem darin, unter Verwendung molekularbiologischer und computergestützter Analyseverfahren, Fragestellungen zur Zoogeographie, (Co-)Phylogenie, Artdiagnostik, Lebenszyklus-Ökologie sowie des bioindikatorischen Potentials dieser Gattung zu bearbeiten und bestehende Wissenslücken zu schließen.
Die Verbreitung von Anisakis, welche bisher ausschließlich anhand von biogeographischen Einzelnachweisen abgeschätzt wurde, konnte durch den angewandten Modellierungsansatz erstmalig interpoliert und in Kartenform vergleichend dargestellt werden. Dabei wurde gezeigt, dass die Verbreitung von Anisakis spp. in den Ozeanen und Klimazonen nicht gleichmäßig ist. Die Analysen deuten auf die Existenz spezies-spezifischer horizontaler und vertikaler Verbreitungsmuster hin, welche neben abiotischen Faktoren durch die Verbreitung und Abundanz der jeweiligen Zwischen- und Endwirte sowie deren Tiefenverteilung und Nahrungspräferenzen geprägt sind.
Durch die umfangreiche Zusammenstellung und anschließende Kategorisierung der (mit molekularen Methoden) geführten Zwischenwirtsnachweise konnten indirekte Rückschlüsse über die vertikale Verbreitung von Anisakis spp. entlang der Tiefenhabitate gezogen werden.
Während Anisakis auf Gattungsebene in der gesamten Wassersäule entlang verschiedener Tiefenhabitate abundant ist, wurde für die stenoxene Art Anisakis paggiae ein meso-/bathypelagisch orientierter Lebenszyklus postuliert. Durch den Einbezug eines breiten Spektrums (paratenischer) Zwischen- und Transportwirte aus unterschiedlichen trophischen Ebenen werden Transmissionslücken im Lebenszyklus der Gattung weitestgehend minimiert und der Transmissionserfolg auf den Endwirt, und damit die Wahrscheinlichkeit einer erfolgreichen Reproduktion, erhöht. Ausgeprägte Wirtspräferenzen sowie phylogenetische Analysen des ribosomalen ITS-Markers stützen eine Theorie zur co-evolutiven Anpassung der Parasiten an ihre Endwirte. Anisakis eignet sich daher unter Einschränkungen als Bioindikator für die vertikale und horizontale Verbreitung und Abundanz der Endwirte und lässt Rückschlüsse auf trophische Interaktionen im Nahrungsnetz zu. Durch die weitere Beprobung von Zwischenwirten aus verschiedenen trophischen Ebenen in zukünftigen Studien, kann eine genauere Bewertung potentiell abweichender Lebenszyklus-Strategien gewährleistet werden. Insbesondere ist die Datenlage zur Prävalenz und Abundanz anisakider Nematoden in Cephalopoda und Crustacea noch unzureichend. Die Probennahme sollte dabei unter besonderer Berücksichtigung bislang wenig oder unbeprobter geographischer Regionen, Tiefenhabitate und Wirtsarten durchgeführt werden.
The importance of the regional species pool, ecological species traits and local habitat conditions for the colonization of restored river reaches by fish
Armin W. Lorenz
- It is commonly assumed that the colonization of restored river reaches by fish depends on the regional species pools; however, quantifications of the relationship between the composition of the regional species pool and restoration outcome are lacking. We analyzed data from 18 German river restoration projects and adjacent river reaches constituting the regional species pools of the restored reaches. We found that the ability of statistical models to describe the fish assemblages established in the restored reaches was greater when these models were based on ‘biotic’ variables relating to the regional species pool and the ecological traits of species rather than on ‘abiotic’ variables relating to the hydromorphological habitat structure of the restored habitats and descriptors of the restoration projects. For species presence in restored reaches, ‘biotic’ variables explained 34% of variability, with the occurrence rate of a species in the regional species pool being the most important variable, while ’abiotic’ variables explained only the negligible amount of 2% of variability. For fish density in restored reaches, about twice the amount of variability was explained by ‘biotic’ (38%) compared to ‘abiotic’ (21%) variables, with species density in the regional species pool being most important. These results indicate that the colonization of restored river reaches by fish is largely determined by the assemblages in the surrounding species pool. Knowledge of species presence and abundance in the regional species pool can be used to estimate the likelihood of fish species becoming established in restored reaches.
Mining herbaria for plant pathogen genomes: back to the future
Hernán A. Burbano
Gene loss rather than gene gain is associated with a host jump from monocots to dicots in the smut fungus Melanopsichium pennsylvanicum
- Smut fungi are well-suited to investigate the ecology and evolution of plant pathogens, as they are strictly biotrophic, yet cultivable on media. Here we report the genome sequence of Melanopsichium pennsylvanicum, closely related to Ustilago maydis and other Poaceae-infecting smuts, but parasitic to a dicot plant. To explore the evolutionary patterns resulting from host adaptation after this huge host jump, the genome of M. pennsylvanicum was sequenced and compared to the genomes of Ustilago maydis, Sporisorium reilianum, and Ustilago hordei. While all four genomes had a similar completeness in CEGMA analyses, gene absence was highest in M. pennsylvanicum, and most pronounced in putative secreted proteins, which are often considered as effector candidates. In contrast, the amount of private genes was similar among the species, highlighting that gene loss rather than gene gain is the hallmark of adaptation after the host jump to the dicot host. Our analyses revealed a trend of putative effectors to be next to another putative effector, but the majority of these are not in clusters and thus the focus on pathogenicity clusters might not be appropriate for all smut genomes. Positive selection studies revealed that M. pennsylvanicum has the highest number and proportion of genes under positive selection. In general, putative effectors showed a higher proportion of positively selected genes than non-effector candidates. The 248 putative secreted effectors found in all four smut genomes might constitute a core set needed for pathogenicity, while those 92 that are found in all grass-parasitic smuts, but have no ortholog in M. pennsylvanicum might constitute a set of effectors important for successful colonization of grass hosts.
Population Structure and Distribution Patterns of the Sibling Mosquito Species Culex pipiens and Culex torrentium (Diptera: Culicidae) Reveal Different Evolutionary Paths
Adriaan W. C. Dorresteijn
- Nowadays a number of endemic mosquito species are known to possess vector abilities for various diseases, as e.g. the sibling species Culex pipiens and Culex torrentium. Due to their morphological similarity, ecology, distribution and vector abilities, knowledge about these species' population structure is essential. Culicidae from 25 different sampling sites were collected from March till October 2012. All analyses were performed with aligned cox1 sequences with a total length of 658 bp. Population structure as well as distribution patterns of both species were analysed using molecular methods and different statistical tests like distance based redundancy analysis (dbDRA), analysis of molecular variances (AMOVA) or McDonald & Kreitman test and Tajima's D. Within both species, we could show a genetic variability among the cox1 fragment. The construction of haplotype networks revealed one dominating haplotype for Cx. pipiens, widely distributed within Germany and a more homogeneous pattern for Cx. torrentium. The low genetic differences within Cx. pipiens could be a result of an infection with Wolbachia which can induce a sweep through populations by passively taking the also maternally inherited mtDNA through the population, thereby reducing the mitochondrial diversity as an outcome of reproductive incompatibility. Pairwise population genetic differentiation (FST) ranged significantly from moderate to very great between populations of Cx. pipiens and Cx. torrentium. Analyses of molecular variances revealed for both species that the main genetic variability exists within the populations (Cx. pipiens [88.38%]; Cx. torrentium [66.54%]). Based on a distance based redundancy analysis geographical origin explained a small but significant part of the species' genetic variation. Overall, the results confirm that Cx. pipiens and Cx. torrentium underlie different factors regarding their mitochondrial differentiation, which could be a result of endosymbiosis, dispersal between nearly located populations or human introduction.
An Illumina metabarcoding pipeline for fungi
- High-throughput metabarcoding studies on fungi and other eukaryotic microorganisms are rapidly becoming more frequent and more complex, requiring researchers to handle ever increasing amounts of raw sequence data. Here, we provide a flexible pipeline for pruning and analyzing fungal barcode (ITS rDNA) data generated as paired-end reads on Illumina MiSeq sequencers. The pipeline presented includes specific steps fine-tuned for ITS, that are mostly missing from pipelines developed for prokaryotes. It (1) employs state of the art programs and follows best practices in fungal high-throughput metabarcoding; (2) consists of modules and scripts easily modifiable by the user to ensure maximum flexibility with regard to specific needs of a project or future methodological developments; and (3) is straightforward to use, also in classroom settings. We provide detailed descriptions and revision techniques for each step, thus giving the user maximum control over data treatment and avoiding a black-box approach. Employing this pipeline will improve and speed up the tedious and error-prone process of cleaning fungal Illumina metabarcoding data.
Germination and seedling frost tolerance differ between the native and invasive range in common ragweed
Marion Carmen Leiblein‑Wild
- Germination characteristics and frost tolerance of seedlings are crucial parameters for establishment and invasion success of plants. The characterization of differences between populations in native and invasive ranges may improve our understanding of range expansion and adaptation. Here, we investigated germination characteristics of Ambrosia artemisiifolia L., a successful invader in Europe, under a temperature gradient between 5 and 25 °C. Besides rate and speed of germination we determined optimal, minimal and maximal temperature for germination of ten North American and 17 European populations that were sampled along major latitudinal and longitudinal gradients. We furthermore investigated the frost tolerance of seedlings. Germination rate was highest at 15 °C and germination speed was highest at 25 °C. Germination rate, germination speed, frost tolerance of seedlings, and the temperature niche width for germination were significantly higher and broader, respectively, for European populations. This was partly due to a higher seed mass of these populations. Germination traits lacked evidence for adaptation to climatic variables at the point of origin for both provenances. Instead, in the native range, seedling frost tolerance was positively correlated with the risk of frosts which supports the assumption of local adaptation. The increased frost tolerance of European populations may allow germination earlier in the year which may subsequently lead to higher biomass allocation—due to a longer growing period—and result in higher pollen and seed production. The increase in germination rates, germination speed and seedling frost tolerance might result in a higher fitness of the European populations which may facilitate further successful invasion and enhance the existing public health problems associated with this species.