Jean-François Flot's research while affiliated with Université Libre de Bruxelles and other places

Publications (174)

Article
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Cataglyphis are thermophilic ants that forage during the day when temperatures are highest and sometimes close to their critical thermal limit. Several Cataglyphis species have evolved unusual reproductive systems such as facultative queen parthenogenesis or social hybridogenesis, which have not yet been investigated in detail at the molecular leve...
Article
In 1923, Robert Feulgen designed a quantitative approach to measure the relative DNA content of a species (its so-called “C-value”, which is defined as half of the DNA content of a somatic cell and is expressed in pg). The Feulgen approach has several advantages: it can be used on ethanol-preserved samples, it is relatively inexpensive, and it does...
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The groundwater amphipod genus Niphargus comprises over 425 described species mainly distributed in the Western Palearctic. Representatives of the genus are quite rare in areas formerly occupied by Quaternary glaciers. Although a couple of species were previously discovered in high-elevation caves and karstic springs, it is only recently that the g...
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Since the discovery and description of the first specialized cave species, subterranean fauna stimulated the scientific research of several generations of speleobiologists especially after the publication of Racovitza's classification of cave species, which is still used today, amended for non-karstic areas and groundwaters. More than 28,000 obliga...
Article
The vocable 'omics' encompasses genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics. All these subfields deal with what used to be called "big data" that describe complex interactions. What can be the use of such highly sophisticated approaches when dealing with caves and other subterranean environments? Are subterranean ecosystems omics-worth?...
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Water scorpions belonging to the genus Nepa are predatory freshwater aquatic insects of the order Hemiptera. There are currently five accepted species, with a Holarctic distribution: N. cinerea (Eurasia and Northern Africa), N. sardiniensis (Sardinia and Corsica), N. anophthalma (endemic to Movile Cave, Romania), N. apiculata (North America) and N....
Article
Movile Cave, located in southeastern Romania close to the Black Sea, is one of the most remarkable diversity hotspots worldwid with 52 species of invertebrates of which 37 are endemic (Brad et al. 2021). Due to the high concentration of hydrogen sulfide in its water, the primary production of organic matter in Movile Cave relies almost entirely on...
Article
Life in Movile Cave (Romania) relies entirely on carbon fixation by bacteria oxidizing sulfide, methane and ammonia, using oxygen, nitrate, sulfate, and ferric iron as electron acceptors. There, our attention was drawn by a white veil-like structure at the water surface. Microscopic analysis of the veil revealed a dense population of microorganisms...
Preprint
The European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis L.) is the endemic species of the European coasts. Its exploitation has been reduced during the last decades, because of the appearance of two parasites that have led to the collapse of the stocks and the strong decline of the natural oyster beds. O. edulis has been the subject of numerous studies and program...
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Non-vertebrate species represent about 95% of known metazoan (animal) diversity. They remain to this day relatively unexplored genetically, but understanding their genome structure and function is pivotal for expanding our current knowledge of evolution, ecology and biodiversity. Following the continuous improvements and decreasing costs of sequenc...
Preprint
Non-vertebrate species represent about ~95% of known metazoan (animal) diversity. They remain to this day relatively unexplored genetically, but understanding their genome structure and function is pivotal for expanding our current knowledge of evolution, ecology and biodiversity. Following the continuous improvements and decreasing costs of sequen...
Preprint
A bstract The Niphargus stygius species complex is a groundwater group of large-sized, sexually dimorphic species inhabiting mainly caves and, less frequently, wells and springs. According to the taxonomists of the last century, this species complex was supposed to be present in the whole Southern Limestone Alps of Italy as well as in peninsular It...
Article
Brazil’s caves, home to diverse species and minerals, were stripped of protections by a recent presidential decree.
Conference Paper
The caves located in the Frasassi Gorge, Marche region (central Italy) host unusually diverse subterranean invertebrate communities. The hotspots of biodiversity in these caves are represented by the sulfidic habitats where the biological communities are very rich and diverse, and where their foodbase is abundant and represented by in situ carbon f...
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Background: The hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria is a major marine resource along the Atlantic coasts of North America and has been introduced to other continents for resource restoration or aquaculture activities. Significant mortality events have been reported in the species throughout its native range as a result of diseases (microbial infection...
Preprint
Full-text available
Non-vertebrate species represent about ~95% of known metazoan (animal) diversity. They remain to this day relatively unexplored genetically, but understanding their genome structure and function is pivotal for expanding our current knowledge of evolution, ecology and biodiversity. Following the continuous improvements and decreasing costs of sequen...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cataglyphis are thermophilic ants that forage during the day when temperatures are highest and sometimes close to their critical thermal limit. Several Cataglyphis species have evolved unusual reproductive systems such as facultative queen parthenogenesis or social hybridogenesis, which have not yet been investigated in detail at the molecular leve...
Article
Full-text available
Microniphargus leruthi Schellenberg, 1934 (Amphipoda: Niphargidae) was first described based on samples collected in Belgium and placed in a monotypic genus within the family Niphargidae. However, some details of its morphology as well as recent phylogenetic studies suggest that Microniphargus may be more closely related to Pseudoniphargus (Amphipo...
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Full-text available
Sesoko Station, Okinawa, has been the site of many significant advances in coral reproductive research and it continues to be a preferred destination for both Japanese and international researchers. Consequently, there are decades of spawning observations, which we present and explore here with the aim of making it easier to predict when species sp...
Preprint
Non-vertebrate species represent about ~95% of known metazoan (animal) diversity. They remain to this day relatively unexplored genetically, but understanding their genome structure and function is pivotal for expanding our current knowledge of evolution, ecology and biodiversity. Following the continuous improvements and decreasing costs of sequen...
Article
Full-text available
Niphargus enslini Karaman, 1932 was collected only once in 1905 from the Falkensteiner Höhle (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). Two years after its description, the species was synonymized with Niphargus virei and not studied any more. During recent surveys on German niphargids, further samples collected in this cave did not yield N. enslini specimens,...
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Bdelloid rotifers are notorious as a speciose ancient clade comprising only asexual lineages. Thanks to their ability to repair highly fragmented DNA, most bdelloid species also withstand complete desiccation and ionizing radiation. Producing a well-assembled reference genome is a critical step to developing an understanding of the effects of long-...
Article
Distinguishing coral species is not only crucial for physiological, ecological and evolutionary studies, but also to enable effective management of threatened reef ecosystems. However, traditional hypotheses that delineate coral species based on morphological traits from the coral skeleton are frequently at odds with tree-based molecular approaches...
Preprint
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A bstract K/θ is a method to delineate species that rests on the calculation of the ratio between the average distance K separating two putative species-level clades and the genetic diversity θ of these clades. Although this method is explicitly rooted in population genetic theory, it was never benchmarked due to the absence of a program allowing a...
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Coleoptera is the most species-rich insect order, yet is currently underrepresented in genomic databases. An assembly was generated for ca. 1.7 Gb genome of the leaf beetle Gonioctena quinquepunctata by first assembling long sequence reads (Oxford Nanopore; ± 27-fold coverage) and subsequently polishing the resulting assembly with short sequence re...
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Background Long-read sequencing is revolutionizing genome assembly: as PacBio and Nanopore technologies become more accessible in technicity and in cost, long-read assemblers flourish and are starting to deliver chromosome-level assemblies. However, these long reads are usually error-prone, making the generation of a haploid reference out of a dipl...
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Due to the dearth of molecular markers variable enough to distinguish species of black corals, species delimitation in Antipatharia is still mainly based on morphological traits. One of the few markers available, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region located in ribosomal DNA, has already been used several times to infer phylogenetic relation...
Preprint
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Long reads and Hi-C have revolutionized the field of genome assembly as they have made highly continuous assemblies accessible for challenging genomes. As haploid chromosome-level assemblies are now commonly achieved for all types of organisms, phasing assemblies has become the new frontier for genome reconstruction. Several tools have already been...
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The discovery of multi-species synchronous spawning of scleractinian corals on the Great Barrier Reef in the 1980s stimulated an extraordinary effort to document spawning times in other parts of the globe. Unfortunately, most of these data remain unpublished which limits our understanding of regional and global reproductive patterns. The Coral Spaw...
Article
The Niphargus tatrensis species complex, entirely subterranean, has a wide distribution range extending from Southern Poland to Austria and Slovenia. Because of its large and confusing morphological variability, it was subdivided into several 'forms', four of which described from Austrian caves. To shed light on this chaotic situation, we sampled t...
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A group of four amphoras found in the anchialine cave of Vodeni Rat in the Croatian island of Sveti Klement, on a rocky ledge at 24 m water depth, indicates that a freshwater source was exploited at the bottom of this karstic pit by islanders and/or passing-by sailors from the late Roman Republican Period to the Early Medieval Period. In other word...
Preprint
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Life in Movile Cave (Romania) relies entirely on primary carbon fixation by bacteria oxidizing sulfide, methane and ammonia with oxygen, nitrate, sulfate, and ferric iron. There, large spherical-ovoid bacteria (12-16 μm diameter), rich in intracellular sulfur globules, dominate the stable microbial community in the surface water of a hypoxic Air Be...
Article
Coral reefs provide essential goods and services but are degrading at an alarming rate due to local and global anthropogenic stressors. The main limitation that prevents the implementation of adequate conservation measures is that connectivity and genetic structure of populations are poorly known. Here, the genetic diversity and connectivity of the...
Preprint
Full-text available
Microniphargus leruthi Schellenberg, 1934 (Amphipoda: Niphargidae) was first described based on samples collected in Belgium and placed in a monotypic genus within the family Niphargidae. However, some details of its morphology as well as recent phylogenetic studies suggest that Microniphargus may be more closely related to Pseudoniphargus (Amphipo...
Article
Haplotype webs (haplowebs) and conspecificity matrices have recently been proposed as graphical methods for species delimitation. However, performing such analyses by hand can be error prone and time consuming, and no program is currently available to generate them automatically. Here we present two online tools called HaplowebMaker and CoMa that f...
Preprint
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The several hundreds of species of bdelloid rotifers are notorious because they represent an ancient clade comprising only asexual lineages. Moreover, most bdelloid species have the ability to withstand complete desiccation and high doses of ionizing radiation, being able to repair their DNA after massive genome breakage. To better understand the i...
Article
Aim Freshwater subterranean amphipods with low dispersal abilities are known from both sides of the impermeable barrier, the Adriatic Sea. We tested the hypothesis that historical marine regression–transgression cycles shaped the distribution patterns of subterranean amphipods through repeated cycles of dispersal and vicariance against the hypothes...
Preprint
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Third-generation sequencing, also called long-read sequencing, has revolutionized genome assembly: as PacBio and Nanopore technologies have become more accessible in technicity and in cost (with decreasing error rates and increasing read lengths), long-read assemblers have flourished and are starting to deliver chromosome-level assemblies. However,...
Article
We characterized taxonomically, ecologically, and phylogenetically the amphipod community of Melissotrypa Cave (Central Greece), which comprises both freshwater and sulphidic lakes. We found four amphipod species: Niphargus jovanovici, Niphargus lindbergi, Niphargus gammariformis sp. nov. and an unknown species of Bogidiella. The three Niphargus sp...
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“Occasional” sexuality occurs when a species is capable of both clonal reproduction and genetic mixing. This strategy is predicted to combine the advantages of both asexuality and sexuality, but its actual consequences on genetic diversity and species longevity are poorly understood. Androgenesis, a reproductive mode in which the offspring usually...
Preprint
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Motivations: Short-read accuracy is important for downstream analyses such as genome assembly and hybrid long-read correction. Despite much work on short-read correction, present-day correctors either do not scale well on large data sets or consider reads as mere suites of k-mers, without taking into account their full-length read information. Resu...
Article
Motivation Short-read accuracy is important for downstream analyses such as genome assembly and hybrid long-read correction. Despite much work on short-read correction, present-day correctors either do not scale well on large datasets or consider reads as mere suites of k-mers, without taking into account their full-length read information. Result...
Preprint
More than a decade ago, a new mitochondrial Open Reading Frame (mtORF) was discovered in corals of the family Pocilloporidae, which turn out to be an effective barcode gene for these corals. However, its function remains unknown. Recently, this gene revealed the existence of a hybrid Stylophora lineage (RS_LinA) inhabiting in sympatry along the env...
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Introgressive hybridization, as evidenced by topological incongruence between nuclear and mitochondrial phylogenies, has been broadly recorded in a range of organisms. However, mtDNA recombination following hybridization is rarely found in animals and was never until now reported in reef-building corals. Here we report unexpected topological incong...
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Decades of debates around the species problem have resulted in the emergence of a unified species concept with multiple criteria to delimit species taxa. Many biologists now agree to consider species as separately evolving segments of metapopulation lineages (i.e. the species concept), and to consider species taxa (i.e. the elementary units used in...
Preprint
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We thank Wilson et al. (2018) for their thorough re-analysis of our data and for their constructive criticisms that led our groups to exchange many stimulating emails over the last two years. Although we agree that inter-individual contamination can yield patterns suggestive of inter-individual recombination, we are not fully convinced by their cri...
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Sulfur Cave (Puturosu Mountain, Romania) is an extreme environment, unique for displaying life in a gas chemocline. The lower part of the cave is filled with CO2, CH4, and H2S of mofettic origin, while the upper part contains air that floats above the heavier volcanic gasses. S° and H2SO4 (from sulfur-oxidation) cover the cave wall at and below the...
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Molecular approaches to species delimitation are increasingly used to ascertain the number of species in a sample prior to taxonomic, ecological or physiological studies. Although multilocus approaches are gaining fast in popularity, single‐gene methods still predominate in the literature. However, available simulation benchmarks of these methods f...
Article
Morphometrics, the assignment of quantities to biological shapes, is a powerful tool to address taxonomic, evolutionary, functional and developmental questions. We propose a novel method for shape quantification of complex modular architecture in thalloid plants, whose extremely reduced morphologies, combined with the lack of a formal framework for...
Article
Ecologists increasingly rely on molecular delimitation methods (MMs) to identify species boundaries, thereby potentially increasing the number of putative species because of the presence of morphologically cryptic species. It has been argued that cryptic species could challenge our understanding of what determine large-scale biodiversity patterns w...
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Stony corals form the foundation of coral reef ecosystems. Their phylogeny is characterized by a deep evolutionary divergence that separates corals into a robust and complex clade dating back to at least 245 mya. However, the genomic consequences and clade-specific evolution remain unexplored. In this study we have produced the genome of a robust c...
Article
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Scleractinian corals of the genus Pocillopora (Lamarck, 1816) are notoriously difficult to identify morphologically with considerable debate on the degree to which phenotypic plasticity, introgressive hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting obscure well-defined taxonomic lineages. Here, we used RAD-seq to resolve the phylogenetic relationships...
Article
We propose a new method to correct short reads using de Bruijn graphs, and implement it as a tool called Bcool. As a first step, Bcool constructs a corrected compacted de Bruijn graph from the reads. This graph is then used as a reference and the reads are corrected according to their mapping on the graph. We show that this approach yields a better...
Preprint
Full-text available
Stony corals form the foundation of coral reef ecosystems. Their phylogeny is characterized by a deep evolutionary divergence that separates corals into a robust and complex clade dating back to at least 245 mya. However, the genomic consequences and clade-specific evolution remain unexplored. In this study we have produced the genome of a robust c...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The duplication of genes can occur through various mechanisms and is thought to make a major contribution to the evolutionary diversification of organisms. There is increasing evidence for a large-scale duplication of genes in some chelicerate lineages including two rounds of whole genome duplication (WGD) in horseshoe crabs. To investi...
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DNA-based techniques are helpful in characterising hybridisation patterns in plant species. To be efficient in disentangling species boundaries and interspecific gene flow, it is recommended to combine various methodologies and types of markers. Here, we used different analytical tools (algorithms implemented in Structure, Tess, NewHybrids and HIes...