, Volume 313-314, Issue 1, pp 365-371

Mictic patterns of the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis Müller in small ponds

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Abstract

Populations of the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis were monitored in three small ponds in a marsh on the Mediterranean coast. Samples were taken approximately every three weeks from July 1992 to November 1993. Salinity, temperature, conductivity, pH and oxygen concentration were measured in the field. Population density was determined from preserved quantitative samples. Individuals were classified as mictic females, amictic females, non-ovigerous females, and males, differentiating between two morphotypes (‘S’ and ‘L’). From these counts, a level of mixis was calculated. We also determined the proportion of mictic females in natural populations by culturing females isolated from fresh samples. From these data, mictic patterns over time and correlation between levels of mixis and environmental and population parameters were analyzed. From a previous study ‘S’ and ‘L’ morphotypes were known to correspond to genetically different clonal groups. Our data showed that reproduction was predominantly parthenogenetic in these clonal groups, but mictic females were found in most samples, the proportion of mictic females ranging from 0 to 29%. The clonal groups showed different patterns of mixis. L clonal group presented a continuous sexual reproductive pattern. In contrast, S clones showed a rather punctuated mictic pattern. A positive correlation between levels of sexual reproduction and population density was found for S and L groups. However, they differed in their density threshold for mictic reproduction. The adaptive meaning of these patterns and their implications in maintaining genetic diversity within and between populations are discussed.