Comparative phylogeography of six red algae along the Antarctic Peninsula: extreme genetic depletion linked to historical bottlenecks and recent expansion

Abstract : In the Southern Ocean, rapid climatic fluctuations during the Quaternary are thought to have induced range contractions and bottlenecks, thereby instigating genetic divergence and potentially even speciation of marine species. Specifically, ice scouring during glacial events may have had drastic impacts on seaweed communities, thus leading to genetic diversification between algal populations that persisted on the Antarctic shelf in small isolated refugia. Using the mitochondrial Cytochrome c Oxidase I (COI) gene and 279 individual macroalgal specimens collected from five geographic areas along the coasts of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands, we studied the genetic diversity of six commonly encountered species of red algae. All six algae were characterized by very low genetic diversity, and we found a significant signature of recent population expansion of a single haplotype encountered over more than 450 km. These results reflect the drastic impact of historical perturbations on populations of Antarctic seaweeds. We propose that genetic drift during a glacial bottleneck had a strong effect and could have been amplified by gene surfing effects during spatial expansion after ice sheet retreat. This led to the rapid spread of a single haplotype in the recolonized region. Unfortunately, the very low level of genetic diversity encountered did not allow us to precisely pinpoint the putative location of the glacial refugium inhabited by Antarctic seaweeds. Despite this, we propose that future studies should test the role of active volcanic areas, such as Deception Island, as long-term refugia in the region.
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Marie-Laure Guillemin, Hélène Dubrasquet, Janette Reyes, Myriam Valero. Comparative phylogeography of six red algae along the Antarctic Peninsula: extreme genetic depletion linked to historical bottlenecks and recent expansion. Polar Biology, Springer Verlag, 2018, pp.1-11. ⟨10.1007/s00300-017-2244-7⟩. ⟨hal-01735897⟩

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