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Incomplete reproductive isolation between genetically distinct sympatric clades of the pennate model diatom Seminavis robusta
De Decker, S.; Vanormelingen, P.; Pinseel, E.; Sefbom, J.; Audoor, S.; Sabbe, K.; Vyverman, W. (2018). Incomplete reproductive isolation between genetically distinct sympatric clades of the pennate model diatom Seminavis robusta. Protist 169(4): 569-583. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.protis.2018.05.003
In: Protist. Elsevier: Jena. ISSN 1434-4610; e-ISSN 1618-0941, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Bacillariophyta; speciation; species concept; genetic diversity;hybridization; gene flow

Authors  Top 
  • De Decker, S., more
  • Vanormelingen, P., more
  • Pinseel, E., more
  • Sefbom, J., more

Abstract
    Incomplete reproductive isolation between genetically distinct taxa provides an interesting opportunity for speciation and adaptation studies. This phenomenon is well-described in macro-organisms, but less experimental evidence is available for unicellular eukaryotes. Here, we document the sympatric occurrence of genetically differentiated populations of the pennate model diatom Seminavis robusta in coastal subtidal biofilm communities and show widespread potential for gene flow between them. Based on sequence variation in the plastid-encoded rbcL gene, three distinct clades were identified. Morphological variation between the clades reflected their phylogenetic relationships, with subtle differences in valve morphology in the most distant clade compared to the other two clades, which were indistinguishable. Using a large number of experimental crosses we showed that, although reproductive output was significantly lower compared to the majority of within-clade crosses, approximately 34.5% of the inter-clade crosses resulted in viable and fertile progeny. While the nature of the incomplete reproductive isolation remains unknown, its occurrence in natural diatom populations represents an additional mechanism contributing to population genetic structuring and adaptation and can spur further research into the mechanisms of species divergence and the maintenance of species identity in the presence of gene flow.

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