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Biogeographic patterns in ocean microbes emerge in a neutral agent-based model
Helleweger, F.L.; van Sebille, E.; Fredrick, N.D. (2014). Biogeographic patterns in ocean microbes emerge in a neutral agent-based model. Science (Wash.) 345(6202): 1346-1349.
In: Science (Washington). American Association for the Advancement of Science: New York, N.Y. ISSN 0036-8075, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Helleweger, F.L.
  • van Sebille, E.
  • Fredrick, N.D.

    A key question in ecology and evolution is the relative role of natural selection and neutral evolution in producing biogeographic patterns. We quantify the role of neutral processes by simulating division, mutation, and death of 100,000 individual marine bacteria cells with full 1 million–base-pair genomes in a global surface ocean circulation model. The model is run for up to 100,000 years and output is analyzed using BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) alignment and metagenomics fragment recruitment. Simulations show the production and maintenance of biogeographic patterns, characterized by distinct provinces subject to mixing and periodic takeovers by neighbors (coalescence), after which neutral evolution reestablishes the province and the patterns reorganize. The emergent patterns are substantial (e.g., down to 99.5% DNA identity between North and Central Pacific provinces) and suggest that microbes evolve faster than ocean currents can disperse them. This approach can also be used to explore environmental selection.

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