Low genetic variation between South American and Antarctic populations of the bank-forming moss Chorisodontium aciphyllum (Dicranaceae)
- 163 Downloads
The Antarctic–South American bank-forming moss Chorisodontium aciphyllum is known for having the oldest sub-fossils of any extant plant in Antarctica as well as extreme survival abilities, making it a candidate species for possible long-term survival in Antarctica. Applying phylogeographic and population genetic methods using the plastid markers trnL-F and rps4 and the nuclear internal transcribed spacer, we investigated the genetic diversity within C. aciphyllum throughout its range. Low genetic variation was found in all loci, both between and within Antarctic and southern South American populations, suggesting a relatively recent (likely within the last million years) colonization of this moss to the Antarctic, as well as a likely severe bottleneck during Pleistocene glaciations in southern South America. We also performed a simple atmospheric transfer modeling approach to study potential colonization rates of small (microscopic/microbial) or spore-dispersed organisms (such as many mosses and lichens). These suggested that the northern Antarctic Peninsula shows potentially regular connectivity from southern South America, with air masses transferring, particularly southbound, between the two regions. We found elevated genetic variation of C. aciphyllum in Elephant Island, also the location of the oldest known moss banks (> 5500 years), suggesting this location to be a genetic hotspot for this species in the Antarctic.
KeywordsBryophyte LGM Last glacial maximum Peat moss Sub-Antarctic Wind
We thank Helen Peat at the AAS herbarium (British Antarctic Survey; BAS) for access to herbarium specimens; Dr. Jessica Royles for providing fresh samples, Instituto Antartico Chileno (INACH) for logistic support; and Laura Gerrish (BAS) for preparing Fig. 2. Thanks to James Fenton for the photographs shown in Fig. 1. This research was funded by a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Ph.D. studentship (ref. NE/K50094X/1) to E.M.B. and supported by NERC core funding to the BAS Biodiversity, Evolution and Adaptation Team. This study also contributes to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research ‘State of the Antarctic Ecosystem’ programme.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Collins NJ (1976a) The development of moss-peat banks in relation to changing climate and ice cover on Signy Island in the maritime Antarctic. Br Antarct Surv B 43:85–102Google Scholar
- Department of Conservation, New Zealand (2013) New listing of the threatened status of New Zealand bryophytes, consultation closed Aug 2013. http://www.doc.govt.nz/get-involved/have-your-say/all-consultations/2013/new-listing-of-the-threatened-status-of-nz-bryophytes/. Accessed 10 Sept 2017
- Fenton JHC (1982b) Vegetation re-exposed after burial by ice and its relationship to changing climate in the South Orkney Islands. Brit Antarct Surv B 51:247–255Google Scholar
- Fenton JHC, Smith RIL (1982) Distribution, composition and general characteristics of the moss banks of the maritime Antarctic. Br Antarct Surv B 51:215–236Google Scholar
- Hyvönen J (1991) Chorisodontium (Dicranaceae, Musci) in southern South America. Ann Bot Fenn 28:247–258Google Scholar
- Ochyra R, Smith RIL, Bednarek-Ochyra H (2008) The illustrated moss flora of Antarctica. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Rambaut A, Suchard MA, Xie D, Drummond AJ (2014) Tracer v1.6. http://beast.bio.ed.ac.uk/Tracer
- Royles J, Amesbury MJ, Roland TP, Jones GD, Convey P, Griffiths H, Hodgson DA, Charman DJ (2016) Moss stable isotopes (carbon-13, oxygen-18) and testate amoebae reflect environmental inputs and microclimate along a latitudinal gradient on the Antarctic Peninsula. Oecologia 181:931–945CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Smith RIL (1972) Vegetation of the South Orkney Islands with particular reference to Signy Island. British Antarctic Survey Scientific Reports No. 68. British Antarctic Survey, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Smith RIL (1979) Peat forming vegetation in the Antarctic. In: Kivunen E, Heikurainen EL, Pakarinen P (eds) Classification of peat and peatlands. International Peat Society, Helsinki, pp 38–67Google Scholar
- Stech M (1999) Molekulare Systematik haplolepider Laubmoose (Dicrananae, Bryopsida). Freie Universität Berlin, BerlinGoogle Scholar
- White TJ, Bruns T, Lee SJWT, Taylor JW (1990) Amplification and direct sequencing of fungal ribosomal RNA genes for phylogenetics. In: Innis MA, Gelfand DH, Sninsky JJ, White TJ (eds) PCR protocols: a guide to methods and applications. Academic Press, New York, pp 315–322Google Scholar