|Seagrass radiation after Messinian salinity crisis reflected by strong genetic structuring and out-of-Africa scenario (Ruppiaceae)|Triest, L.; Sierens, T. (2014). Seagrass radiation after Messinian salinity crisis reflected by strong genetic structuring and out-of-Africa scenario (Ruppiaceae). PLoS One 9(8): -. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0104264
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Ruppia Linnaeus, 1753 [WoRMS]; Marine
Many aquatic plant and seagrass species are widespread and the origin of their continent-wide ranges might result from high gene flow levels. The response of species when extending northwards since the Last Glacial Maximum can be opposed to the structuring of their populations that survived glaciation cycles in southern regions. The peri-Mediterranean is a complex series of sea basins, coastlines, islands and river deltas with a unique history since the Messinian Crisis that potentially influenced allopatric processes of aquatic life. We tested whether vast ranges across Europe and the peri-Mediterranean of a global seagrass group (Ruppia species complexes) can be explained by either overall high levels of gene flow or vicariance through linking population genetics, phylogeography and shallow phylogenetics. A multigene approach identified haplogroup lineages of two species complexes, of ancient and recent hybrids with most of the diversity residing in the South. High levels of connectivity over long distances were only observed at recently colonized northern ranges and in recently-filled seas following the last glaciation. A strong substructure in the southern Mediterranean explained an isolation-by-distance model across Europe. The oldest lineages of the southern Mediterranean Ruppia dated back to the period between the end of the Messinian and Late Pliocene. An imprint of ancient allopatric origin was left at basin level, including basal African lineages. Thus both vicariance in the South and high levels of connectivity in the North explained vast species ranges. Our findings highlight the need for interpreting global distributions of these seagrass and euryhaline species in the context of their origin and evolutionary significant units for setting up appropriate conservation strategies.