[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adaptation to marginal habitats at species range-limits has often been associated with parthenogenetic reproduction in terrestrial animals and plants. Laboratory observations have shown that brown algae exhibit a high propensity for parthenogenesis by various mechanisms. The kelp Laminaria digitata is an important component of the ecosystem in Northern European rocky intertidal habitats. We studied four L. digitata populations for the effects of marginality on genetic diversity and sexual reproduction. Two populations were marginal: One (Locquirec, in Northern Brittany) was well within the geographic range, but was genetically isolated from other populations by large stretches of sandy beaches. Another population was at the range limits of the species (Quiberon, in Southern Brittany) and was exposed to much higher seasonal temperature changes. Microsatellite analyses confirmed that these populations showed decreased genetic and allelic diversity, consistent with marginality and genetic isolation. Sporophytes from both marginal populations showed greatly diminished spore-production compared to central populations, but only the southern-limit population (Quiberon) showed a high propensity for producing unreduced (2N) spores. Unreduced 2N spores formed phenotypically normal gametophytes with nuclear area consistent with ≥2N DNA contents, and microsatellite studies suggested these were produced at least in part by automixis. However, despite this being the dominant path of spore production in Quiberon sporophyte individuals, the genetic evidence indicated the population was maintained mostly by sexual reproduction. Thus, although spore production and development showed the expected tendency of geographical parthenogenesis in marginal populations, this appeared to be a consequence of maladaptation, rather than an adaptation to, life in a marginal habitat.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(7):e102518. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major determinant of the geographic distribution of a species is expected to be its physiological response to changing abiotic variables over its range. The range of a species often corresponds to the geographic extent of temperature regimes the organism can physiologically tolerate. Many species have very distinct life history stages that may exhibit different responses to environmental factors. In this study we emphasized the critical role of the haploid microscopic stage (gametophyte) of the life cycle to explain the difference of edge distribution of two related kelp species. Lessonia nigrescens was recently identified as two cryptic species occurring in parapatry along the Chilean coast: one located north and the other south of a biogeographic boundary at latitude 29–30uS. Six life history traits from microscopic stages were identified and estimated under five treatments of temperature in eight locations distributed along the Chilean coast in order to (1) estimate the role of temperature in the present distribution of the two cryptic L. nigrescens species, (2) compare marginal populations to central populations of the two cryptic species. In addition, we created a periodic matrix model to estimate the population growth rate (l) at the five temperature treatments. Differential tolerance to temperature was demonstrated between the two species, with the gametophytes of the Northern species being more tolerant to higher temperatures than gametophytes from the south. Second, the two species exhibited different life history strategies with a shorter haploid phase in the Northern species contrasted with considerable vegetative growth in the Southern species haploid stage. These results provide strong ecological evidence for the differentiation process of the two cryptic species and show local adaptation of the life cycle at the range limits of the distribution. Ecological and evolutionary implications of these findings are discussed. Copyright: ß 2012 Oppliger et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
PLoS ONE 06/2012; 7(7(6): e38804). · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Parthenogenesis, the development of female gametes without fertilization, is relatively common in brown algae, although limited quantitative information on the phenomenon is available. Its occurrence is reported for the first time in Lessonia nigrescens Bory, a member of the Laminariales and a key ecological component of the benthic algal communities along the Chilean coast. Isolated female gametophytes developed into parthenosporophytes throughout the year, with a maximum in spring to early summer. Isolated male gametophytes, on the other hand, never developed fronds. Parthenosporophytes obtained in the laboratory developed normally when cultivated under greenhouse conditions, and the resulting individuals were indistinguishable in size, shape, texture, and color from heterozygous sporophytes. Quantification of DNA of various tissues demonstrated that early during their development, parthenosporophytes duplicated their DNA content, displaying levels similar to heterozygous sporophytes and almost twice the level found in gametophytes. One out of 45 individuals from a field population yielded only female gametophytes, strongly suggesting that parthenogenesis does occur in wild stands of L. nigrescens.