[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). · 3.73 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.