Speciation and phylogeography in the cosmopolitan marine moon jelly, Aurelia sp.

  • Background: The cosmopolitan moon jelly Aurelia is characterized by high degrees of morphological and ecological plasticity, and subsequently by an unclear taxonomic status. The latter has been revised repeatedly over the last century, dividing the genus Aurelia in as many as 12 or as little as two species. We used molecular data and phenotypic traits to unravel speciation processes and phylogeographic patterns in Aurelia. Results: Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA data (16S and ITS-1/5.8S rDNA) from 66 world-wide sampled specimens reveal star-like tree topologies, unambiguously differentiating 7 (mtDNA) and 8 (ncDNA) genetic entities with sequence divergences ranging from 7.8 to 14% (mtDNA) and 5 to 32% (ncDNA), respectively. Phylogenetic patterns strongly suggest historic speciation events and the reconstruction of at least 7 different species within Aurelia. Both genetic divergences and life history traits showed associations to environmental factors, suggesting ecological differentiation forced by divergent selection. Hybridization and introgression between Aurelia lineages likely occurred due to secondary contacts, which, however, did not disrupt the unambiguousness of genetic separation. Conclusions: Our findings recommend Aurelia as a model system for using the combined power of organismic, ecological, and molecular data to unravel speciation processes in cosmopolitan marine organisms. © 2002 Schroth et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in any medium for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original URL: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/2/1

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Author:Werner Schroth, Gerhard Jarms, Bruno StreitGND, Bernd Schierwater
Parent Title (English):BMC evolutionary biology
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2005/06/22
Year of first Publication:2002
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2005/06/22
Page Number:10
Institutes:Biowissenschaften / Biowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
Sammlungen:Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht