Extreme mitochondrial DNA divergence within populations of the deep-sea gastropod Frigidoalvaniabrychia
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The deep sea supports a diverse and highly endemic invertebrate fauna, the origin of which remains obscure. Little is known about geographic variation in deep-sea organisms or the evolutionary processes that promote population-level differentiation and eventual speciation. Sequence variation at the 16 S rDNA locus was examined in formalin-preserved specimens of the common upper bathyal rissoid Frigidoalvaniabrychia (Verrill, 1884) to examine its population genetic structure. The specimens came from trawl samples taken over 30 years ago at depths of 457–1,102 m at stations in the Northwest Atlantic south of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA. Near the upper boundary of its bathymetric range (500 m), extremely divergent haplotypes comprising three phylogenetically distinct clades (average uncorrected sequence divergence among clades ~23%, ~3% within clades) were found at stations separated by a maximum distance of ~80 km, suggesting the presence of high levels of intraspecific divergence or the possibility of morphologically cryptic species. Only one of these clades was found at two stations in the mid- to lower part of F. brychia's depth distribution (800–1,100 m), suggesting lower clade diversity with increasing depth, although among-sample divergence, with a single exception, was minimal. One station was genetically divergent from all others sampled, containing a unique suite of haplotypes including two found only at this site. Steep vertical selective gradients, major oceanographic changes during the late Cenozoic, and habitat fragmentation by submarine canyons might have contributed to an upper bathyal region that is highly conducive to evolutionary change.
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