Publications

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    ABSTRACT: In the context of the paradoxical ubiquity of sex, we tested whether stable coexistence of sexual and asexual fish of the genus Cobitis is mediated by parasites, as asexual fish suffer more from parasitic infections because of their lower genetic variability [the Red Queen hypothesis (RQH)], or by partial niche shift of the two strains differing in mode of reproduction. We did not find a clear correlation between infection risk with a helminth parasite and the proportion of sexuals, and we found similar infection rates among sexual females and co-occurring asexuals in general, including the most frequent clone in particular. These results suggest that the mechanisms of the RQH are not directly engaged in stabilizing this asexual complex. On the other hand, the temporally stable gradient in sexual/asexual proportions along the river correlated with gradients in environmental parameters (physicochemical water parameters, velocity, and shading of the habitat) and turnover in the fish assemblage structure. Sexual and asexual forms thus appear to prefer different habitats. The Cobitis teania asexual complex thus contributes to the view that persistence of sex may, as in many taxa, be driven by case-specific processes. © 2014 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2014, ●●, ●●–●●.
    Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 08/2014; · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lucanidae) remains challenging, mainly due to the sexual dimorphism and the strong allometry in males. Such conjecture confounds taxonomic based conservation efforts that are urgently needed due to numerous threats to stag beetle biodiversity. Molecular tools could help solve the problem of identification of the different recognized taxa in the "Lucanus cervus complex" and in some related Palaearctic species. We investigated the potential use of a 670 bp region at the 3' end of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene (COI) for barcoding purposes (different from the standard COI barcoding region). Well resolved species and subspecies were L. tetraodon, L. cervusakbesianus, L. c. laticornis, as well as the two eastern Asian outgroup taxa L. formosanus and L. hermani. Conversely, certain taxa could not be distinguished from each other based on K2P-distances and tree topologies: L. c. fabiani / L. (P.) barbarossa, L. c. judaicus / an unknown Lucanus species, L. c. cervus / L. c. turcicus / L. c. pentaphyllus / L. (P.) macrophyllus / L. ibericus. The relative roles of phenotypic plasticity, recurrent hybridisation and incomplete lineage sorting underlying taxonomic and phylogenetic discordances are discussed.
    ZooKeys 12/2013; · 0.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Because most clonal vertebrates have hybrid genomic constitutions, tight linkages are assumed among hybridization, clonality, and polyploidy. However, predictions about how these processes mechanistically relate during the switch from sexual to clonal reproduction have not been validated. Therefore, we performed a crossing experiment to test the hypothesis that interspecific hybridization per se initiated clonal diploid and triploid spined loaches (Cobitis) and their gynogenetic reproduction. We reared two F1 families resulting from the crossing of 14 pairs of two sexual species, and found their diploid hybrid constitution and a 1:1 sex ratio. While males were infertile, females produced unreduced nonrecombinant eggs (100%). Synthetic triploid females and males (96.3%) resulted in each of nine backcrossed families from eggs of synthesized diploid F1s fertilized by haploid sperm from sexual males. Five individuals (3.7%) from one backcross family were genetically identical to the somatic cells of the mother and originated via gynogenesis; the sperm of the sexual male only triggered clonal development of the egg. Our reconstruction of the evolutionary route from sexuality to clonality and polyploidy in these fish shows that clonality and gynogenesis may have been directly triggered by interspecific hybridization and that polyploidy is a consequence, not a cause, of clonality.
    Evolution 07/2012; 66(7):2191-203. · 4.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Given the hybrid genomic constitutions and increased ploidy of many asexual animals, the identification of processes governing the origin and maintenance of clonal diversity provides useful information about the evolutionary consequences of interspecific hybridization, asexuality and polyploidy. In order to understand the processes driving observed diversity of biotypes and clones in the Cobitis taenia hybrid complex, we performed fine-scale genetic analysis of Central European hybrid zone between two sexual species using microsatellite genotyping and mtDNA sequencing. We found that the hybrid zone is populated by an assemblage of clonally (gynogenetically) reproducing di-, tri- and tetraploid hybrid lineages and that successful clones, which are able of spatial expansion, recruit from two ploidy levels, i.e. diploid and triploid. We further compared the distribution of observed estimates of clonal ages to theoretical distributions simulated under various assumptions and showed that new clones are most likely continuously recruited from ancestral populations. This suggests that the clonal diversity is maintained by dynamic equilibrium between origination and extinction of clonal lineages. On the other hand, an interclonal selection is implied by nonrandom spatial distribution of individual clones with respect to the coexisting sexual species. Importantly, there was no evidence for sexually reproducing hybrids or clonally reproducing non-hybrid forms. Together with previous successful laboratory synthesis of clonal Cobitis hybrids, our data thus provide the most compelling evidence that 1) the origin of asexuality is causally linked to interspecific hybridization; 2) successful establishment of clones is not restricted to one specific ploidy level and 3) the initiation of clonality and polyploidy may be dynamic and continuous in asexual complexes.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(9):e45384. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nine polymorphic microsatellite loci were developed for the spined loach, Cobitis taenia (Teleostei: Cobitidae). The loci were validated using 50 individuals from a population in Belgium. Moderate to high levels of polymorphism were detected (two to 11 alleles). In addition, most markers amplified successfully in three closely related taxa that are known to hybridize with C. taenia: C. elongatoides, C. taurica and C. tanaitica. Some of the loci are most likely diagnostic among species. These markers will be valuable for the study of the historical and contemporary interactions within C. taenia and the Cobitis species complex.
    Molecular Ecology Resources 09/2008; 8(5):1001-3. · 7.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In populations of a cyclical parthenogen, the diversity of clonal lineages, derived from sexually produced eggs, declines during the parthenogenetic phase. Even though Daphnia magna populations from small ponds may harbour millions of individuals, we show that observed clonal and allelic diversity in populations from such small water bodies are lower than in populations from larger water bodies. Populations from small water bodies also show significant fluctuations in allele frequencies among years and a stronger among-population genetic differentiation than populations inhabiting larger water bodies. Persistent founder effects can only explain part of these results. Our data link the population genetic structure of cyclical parthenogens to the size of the habitat and suggest that genetic drift is a more prominent feature of populations inhabiting small water bodies than previously thought.
    Heredity 07/2007; 98(6):419-26. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The genetic structure of cyclic parthenogenetic zooplankton populations is strongly determined by the consequences of combining sexual and asexual reproduction in the same life cycle. Since the pioneering population genetic studies on freshwater zooplankton in the 1970's, a distinction has been made between the genetic structure of permanent and intermittent populations. However, the results of many studies do not fit the expectations of this dichotomous model, for example when large lake populations are considered. In this paper, we present a unifying framework for understanding the genetic structure of cyclic parthenogenetic zooplankton populations, focusing on three factors that determine their degree of clonality and within-population genetic diversity as well as their among-population genetic differentiation: the size of the dormant egg bank, length of the growing season, and strength of clonal selection. We illustrate the importance of each of these factors, and show that our broader concept better explains the variation in genetic structure observed in natural populations of cyclic parthenogens than the earlier implicitly dichotomous model.
    Archiv fur Hydrobiologie 08/2006; 167(1-4):217-244. · 1.41 Impact Factor
  • K De Gelas, L De Meester
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    ABSTRACT: The phylogeographical structure of the water flea Daphnia magna in Europe was analysed using a 609-bp fragment of the cytochrome oxidase subunit I gene. Only moderate overall genetic divergence was detected within Europe. We detected four genetically and, to a large extent, geographically distinct phylogroups within Europe. Our results suggest that these groups recolonized large parts of Europe around 100,000 BP from different refugia. Overall, the pattern suggests a high degree of provincialism with a patchy occurrence of specific lineages, thus confirming the highly subdivided genetic structure usually observed in freshwater zooplankton populations. Although the region around the Mediterranean Sea was only sampled patchily, we obtained strong indications for the occurrence of more divergent genetic lineages in this region. Comparing our European samples to samples from North America and Japan revealed a higher level of differentiation, reflecting limited intercontinental dispersal.
    Molecular Ecology 04/2005; 14(3):753-64. · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In systems of interconnected ponds or lakes, the dispersal of zooplankton may be mediated by the active population component, with rivulets and overflows functioning as dispersal pathways. Using a landscape-based approach, we modelled the effective geographical distance among a set of interconnected ponds (De Maten, Genk, Belgium) in a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment. The first model (the Landscape Model; LM) corrects for the presence of direct connections among ponds and was based on the existing landscape structure (i.e. network of connecting elements among ponds, travelling distance and direction of the current). A second model (the Flow Rate Model; FRM) also incorporated field data on flow rates in the connecting elements as the driving force for the passive dispersal of the active zooplankton population component. Finally, the third model (the Dispersal Rate Model; DRM) incorporated field data on zooplankton dispersal rates. An analysis of the pattern of genetic differentiation among Daphnia ambigua populations inhabiting 10 ponds in the pond complex reveals that the effective geographical distance as modelled by the flow rate and the dispersal rate model provide a better approximation of the true rates of genetic exchange among populations than mere Euclidean geographical distances or the landscape model that takes into account solely the presence of physical connections.
    Molecular Ecology 09/2001; 10(8):1929-38. · 6.28 Impact Factor

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