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See detailPostglacial climate changes and rise of three ecotypes of harbor porpoises, Phocoena phocoena, in western Palearctic waters
Fontaine, Michaël; Roland, K.; Calves, I. et al

in Molecular Ecology (2014)

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See detailCytonuclear discordance among Southeast Asian black rats (Rattus rattus complex)
Pagès, Marie ULg

in Molecular Ecology (2013)

Black rats are major invasive vertebrate pests with severe ecological, economic and health impacts. Remarkably, their evolutionary history has received little attention and there is no firm agreement on ... [more ▼]

Black rats are major invasive vertebrate pests with severe ecological, economic and health impacts. Remarkably, their evolutionary history has received little attention and there is no firm agreement on how many species should be recognized within the black rat complex. This species complex is native to India and Southeast Asia. According to current taxonomic classification, there are three taxa living in sympatry in several parts of Thailand, Cambodia and Lao People's Democratic Republic, where this study was conducted: two accepted species (Rattus tanezumi, Rattus sakeratensis) and an additional mitochondrial lineage of unclear taxonomic status referred to here as ‘Rattus R3’. We used extensive sampling, morphological data and diverse genetic markers differing in rates of evolution and parental inheritance (two mitochondrial DNA genes, one nuclear gene and eight microsatellite loci) to assess the reproductive isolation of these three taxa. Two close Asian relatives, Rattus argentiventer and Rattus exulans, were also included in the genetic analyses. Genetic analyses revealed discordance between the mitochondrial and nuclear data. Mitochondrial phylogeny studies identified three reciprocally monophyletic clades in the black rat complex. However, studies of the phylogeny of the nuclear exon IRBP and clustering and assignation analyses with eight microsatellites failed to separate R. tanezumi and R3. Morphometric analyses were consistent with nuclear data. The incongruence between mitochondrial and nuclear (and morphological) data rendered R. tanezumi/R3 paraphyletic for mitochondrial lineages with respect to R. sakeratensis. Various evolutionary processes, such as shared ancestral polymorphism and incomplete lineage sorting or hybridization with massive mitochondrial introgression between species, may account for this unusual genetic pattern in mammals. [less ▲]

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See detailCpDNA-based species identification and phylogeography: application to African tropical tree species
Duminil, Jérôme; Heuertz, Myriam; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg et al

in Molecular Ecology (2010), 19(24), 5469-5483

Despite the importance of the African tropical rainforests as a hotspot of biodiversity, their history and the processes that have structured their biodiversity are understood poorly. With respect to past ... [more ▼]

Despite the importance of the African tropical rainforests as a hotspot of biodiversity, their history and the processes that have structured their biodiversity are understood poorly. With respect to past demographic processes, new insights can be gained through characterizing the distribution of genetic diversity. However, few studies of this type have been conducted in Central Africa, where the identification of species in the field can be difficult. We examine here the distribution of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) diversity in Lower Guinea in two tree species that are difficult to distinguish, Erythrophleum ivorense and Erythrophleum suaveolens (Fabaceae). By using a blind-sampling approach and comparing molecular and morphological markers, we first identified retrospectively all sampled individuals and determined the limits of the distribution of each species. We then performed a phylogeographic study using the same genetic data set. The two species displayed essentially parapatric distributions that were correlated well with the rainfall gradient, which indicated different ecological requirements. In addition, a phylogeographic structure was found for E. suaveolens and, for both species, substantially higher levels of diversity and allelic endemism were observed in the south (Gabon) than in the north (Cameroon) of the Lower Guinea region. This finding indicated different histories of population demographics for the two species, which might reflect different responses to Quaternary climate changes. We suggest that a recent period of forest perturbation, which might have been caused by humans, favoured the spread of these two species and that their poor recruitment at present results from natural succession in their forest formations. [less ▲]

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See detailForest refugia revisited: nSSRs and cpDNA sequences support historical isolation in a wide-spread African tree with high colonization capacity, Milicia excelsa (Moraceae)
Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Bizoux, Jean-Philippe ULg; Doucet, Jean-Louis ULg et al

in Molecular Ecology (2010), 19

The impact of the Pleistocene climate oscillations on the structure of biodiversity in tropical regions remains poorly understood. In this study, the forest refuge theory is examined at the molecular ... [more ▼]

The impact of the Pleistocene climate oscillations on the structure of biodiversity in tropical regions remains poorly understood. In this study, the forest refuge theory is examined at the molecular level in Milicia excelsa, a dioecious tree with a continuous range throughout tropical Africa. Eight nuclear microsatellites (nuSSRs) and two sequences and one microsatellite from chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) showed a deep divide between samples from Benin and those from Lower Guinea. This suggests both that these populations were isolated in separate geographical regions, probably for several glacial cycles of the Pleistocene, and a poor mixture of gene pools despite M. excelsa’s wind-pollination syndrome. The divide can also be related to seed dispersal patterns, which should be largely determined by the migration behaviour of M. excelsa's main seed disperser, the frugivorous bat Eidolon helvum. Within Lower Guinea, a north-south divide, observed with both markers despite weak genetic structure (nuSSRs: FST=0.035, cpDNA: GST=0.506), suggested the existence of separate Pleistocene refugia in Cameroon and the Gabon/Congo region. We inferred a pollen-to-seed dispersal distance ratio of 1.76, consistent with wide-ranging gene dispersal by both wind and bats. Simulations in an Approximate Bayesian Computation framework suggested low nuSSR and cpDNA mutation rates but imprecise estimates of other demographic parameters, probably due to a substantial gene flow between the Lower Guinean gene pools. The decline of genetic diversity detected in some Gabonese populations could be a consequence of the relatively recent establishment of a closed canopy forest which may negatively affect M. excelsa's reproductive system. [less ▲]

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See detailA relict bank vole lineage highlights the biogeographic history of the Pyrenean region in Europe
Deffontaine Deurbroeck, Valérie ULg; Ledevin, Ronan; Fontaine, Michaël ULg et al

in Molecular Ecology (2009)

The Pyrenean region exhibits high levels of endemism suggesting a major contribution to the phylogeography of European species. But, to date, the role of the Pyrenees and surrounding areas as a glacial ... [more ▼]

The Pyrenean region exhibits high levels of endemism suggesting a major contribution to the phylogeography of European species. But, to date, the role of the Pyrenees and surrounding areas as a glacial refugium for temperate species remains poorly explored. In the current study, we investigated the biogeographic role of the Pyrenean region through the analyses of genetic polymorphism and morphology of a typical forest-dwelling small mammal, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). Analyses of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and the third upper molar (M(3)) show a complex phylogeographic structure in the Pyrenean region with at least three distinct lineages: the Western European, Spanish and Basque lineages. The Basque lineage in the northwestern (NW) Pyrenees was identified as a new clearly differentiated and geographically localized bank vole lineage in Europe. The average M(3) shape of Basque bank voles suggests morphological differentiation but also restricted genetic exchanges with other populations. Our genetic and morphological results as well as palaeo-environmental and fossils records support the hypothesis of a new glacial refugium in Europe situated in the NW Pyrenees. The permissive microclimatic conditions that prevailed for a long time in this region may have allowed the survival of temperate species, including humans. Moreover, local differentiation around the Pyrenees is favoured by the opportunity for populations to track the shift of the vegetation belt in altitude rather than in latitude. The finding of the Basque lineage is in agreement with the high level of endemic taxa reported in the NW Pyrenees. [less ▲]

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See detailSpatial genetic structure in Milicia excelsa (Moraceae) indicates extensive gene dispersal in a low-density wind-pollinated tropical tree
Bizoux, Jean-Philippe ULg; Daïnou, Kasso ULg; Bourland, Nils ULg et al

in Molecular Ecology (2009), 18

In this study, we analysed spatial genetic structure (SGS) patterns and estimated dispersal distances in Milicia excelsa (Welw.) C.C. Berg (Moraceae), a threatened windpollinated dioecious African tree ... [more ▼]

In this study, we analysed spatial genetic structure (SGS) patterns and estimated dispersal distances in Milicia excelsa (Welw.) C.C. Berg (Moraceae), a threatened windpollinated dioecious African tree, with typically low density ( 10 adults ⁄km2). Eight microsatellite markers were used to type 287 individuals in four Cameroonian populations characterized by different habitats and tree densities. Differentiation among populations was very low. Two populations in more open habitat did not display any correlation between genetic relatedness and spatial distance between individuals, whereas significant SGS was detected in two populations situated under continuous forest cover. SGS was weak with a maximum Sp-statistic of 0.006, a value in the lower quartile of SGS estimates for trees in the literature. Using a stepwise approach with Bayesian clustering methods, we demonstrated that SGS resulted from isolation by distance and not colonization by different gene pools. Indirect estimates of gene dispersal distances ranged from rg = 1 to 7.1 km, one order of magnitude higher than most estimates found in the literature for tropical tree species. This result can largely be explained by life-history traits of the species. Milicia excelsa exhibits a potentially wideranging wind-mediated pollen dispersal mechanism as well as very efficient seed dispersal mediated by large frugivorous bats. Estimations of gene flow suggested no major risk of inbreeding because of reduction in population density by exploitation. Different strategy of seed collection may be required for reforestation programmes among populations with different extent of SGS. [less ▲]

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See detailGenetic spatial structure of European common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus)--a result of repeated range expansion and demographic bottlenecks.
Neumann, K.; Michaux, Johan ULg; Maak, S. et al

in Molecular Ecology (2005), 14(5), 1473-83

The spatial genetic structure of common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) was investigated using three partial mitochondrial (mt) genes and 11 nuclear microsatellite loci. All marker systems revealed ... [more ▼]

The spatial genetic structure of common hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) was investigated using three partial mitochondrial (mt) genes and 11 nuclear microsatellite loci. All marker systems revealed significant population differentiation across Europe. Hamsters in central and western Europe belong largely to two allopatric mitochondrial lineages south and northwest of the Carpathian and Sudetes. The southern group, 'Pannonia', comprises populations inside the Carpathian basin (Czech Republic, Hungary) while the second group, 'North', includes hamsters from Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Isolation of the lineages is maintained by a combination of geographical and ecological barriers. Both main phylogeographical groups show signs of further subdivision. North is separated into highly polymorphic central German and less polymorphic western populations, which most likely split during late glacial expansion (15,000-10,000 bp). Clock estimates based on haplotype distributions predict a divergence of the two major lineages 85,000-147,000 bp. Expansion times fall during the last glaciation (115,000-10,000 bp) corroborating fossil data, which identify Cricetus cricetus as characteristic of colder climatic phases. Despite the allopatry of mt haplotypes, there is an overlap of nuclear microsatellite alleles between phylogeographical units. Although there are strong evidence that Pannonian hamsters have persisted inside the Carpathian basin over the last 50,000 years, genetic differentiation among European hamsters has mainly been caused by immigration from different eastern refugia. Possible source populations are likely to be found in the Ukrainian and the southern Russian plains--core areas of hamster distribution. From there, hamsters have repeatedly expanded during the Quaternary. [less ▲]

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See detailConservation genetics and population history of the threatened European mink Mustela lutreola, with an emphasis on the west European population.
Michaux, Johan ULg; Hardy, O. J.; Justy, F. et al

in Molecular Ecology (2005), 14(8), 2373-88

In species of great conservation concern, special attention must be paid to their phylogeography, in particular the origin of animals for captive breeding and reintroduction. The endangered European mink ... [more ▼]

In species of great conservation concern, special attention must be paid to their phylogeography, in particular the origin of animals for captive breeding and reintroduction. The endangered European mink lives now in at least three well-separated populations in northeast, southeast and west Europe. Our aim is to assess the genetic structure of these populations to identify 'distinct population segments' (DPS) and advise captive breeding programmes. First, the mtDNA control region was completely sequenced in 176 minks and 10 polecats. The analysis revealed that the western population is characterized by a single mtDNA haplotype that is closely related to those in eastern regions but nevertheless, not found there to date. The northeast European animals are much more variable (pi = 0.012, h = 0.939), with the southeast samples intermediate (pi = 0.0012, h = 0.469). Second, 155 European mink were genotyped using six microsatellites. The latter display the same trends of genetic diversity among regions as mtDNA [gene diversity and allelic richness highest in northeast Europe (H(E) = 0.539, R(S) = 3.76), lowest in west Europe (H(E) = 0.379, R(S) = 2.12)], and provide evidences that the southeast and possibly the west populations have undergone a recent bottleneck. Our results indicate that the western population derives from a few animals which recently colonized this region, possibly after a human introduction. Microsatellite data also reveal that isolation by distance occurs in the western population, causing some inbreeding because related individuals mate. As genetic data indicate that the three populations have not undergone independent evolutionary histories for long (no phylogeographical structure), they should not be considered as distinct DPS. In conclusion, the captive breeding programme should use animals from different parts of the species' present distribution area. [less ▲]

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See detailBeyond the Mediterranean peninsulas: evidence of central European glacial refugia for a temperate forest mammal species, the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus).
Deffontaine Deurbroeck, Valérie ULg; Libois, Roland ULg; Kotlík, Petr et al

in Molecular Ecology (2005), 14(6), 1727-1739

This study details the phylogeographic pattern of the bank vole, Clethrionomys glareolus, a European rodent species strongly associated with forest habitat. We used sequences of 1011 base pairs of the ... [more ▼]

This study details the phylogeographic pattern of the bank vole, Clethrionomys glareolus, a European rodent species strongly associated with forest habitat. We used sequences of 1011 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene from 207 bank voles collected in 62 localities spread throughout its distribution area. Our results reveal the presence of three Mediterranean (Spanish, Italian and Balkan) and three continental (western, eastern and 'Ural') phylogroups. The endemic Mediterranean phylogroups did not contribute to the postglacial recolonization of much of the Palaearctic range of species. Instead, the major part of this region was apparently recolonized by bank voles that survived in glacial refugia in central Europe. Moreover, our phylogeographic analyses also reveal differentiated populations of bank voles in the Ural mountains and elsewhere, which carry the mitochondrial DNA of another related vole species, the ruddy vole (Clethrionomys rutilus). In conclusion, this study demonstrates a complex phylogeographic history for a forest species in Europe which is sufficiently adaptable that, facing climate change, survives in relict southern and northern habitats. The high level of genetic diversity characterizing vole populations from parts of central Europe also highlights the importance of such regions as a source of intraspecific genetic biodiversity. [less ▲]

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See detailPhylogeography of a nematode (Heligmosomoides polygyrus) in the western Palearctic region: persistence of northern cryptic populations during ice ages?
Nieberding, Caroline M. ULg; Libois, Roland ULg; Douady, C. J. et al

in Molecular Ecology (2005), 14(3), 765-79

This study establishes the continental phylogeographical pattern of a European nematode, Heligmosomoides polygyrus (Dujardin, 1845; Heligmosomoidea). We sequenced 687 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA ... [more ▼]

This study establishes the continental phylogeographical pattern of a European nematode, Heligmosomoides polygyrus (Dujardin, 1845; Heligmosomoidea). We sequenced 687 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) cyt b gene for 136 individuals collected in 22 localities. The results revealed that H. polygyrus populations are separated into five major units corresponding to the Italian, northern European (Denmark and Ireland), Iberian, western European, and Balkan populations. Different subclades were also observed within the first two groups. Based on the rate of molecular evolution of H. polygyrus cyt b gene-estimated to 3.5%-3.7% divergence per million years (Myr) in a previous study--the isolation time of the five clades was estimated between 2.5 +/- 0.24 and 1.5 +/- 0.23 million years ago. Moreover, H. polygyrus presents a higher genetic variability in the Mediterranean peninsulas as compared to northwestern Europe, highlighting the role of these regions as refuge areas. Like its specific host, the wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus, H. polygyrus' pattern of postglacial recolonization of northwestern Europe was initiated from Iberian populations, while Italian and Balkan populations did not expand to the north. The results also suggest the existence of forested and temperate refuges in the southern British Isles during the Quaternary. Finally, the genetic diversity as well as the level of genetic divergence between the lineages of H. polygyrus are compared to those observed in other vertebrate and invertebrate phylogeographical studies: the existence of highly differentiated lineages in H. polygyrus (5%-10% of genetic divergence) highlights that the effects of Pleistocene climate changes on free-living organisms are also reflected in their obligate parasites. [less ▲]

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See detailPhylogeographic footprints of the Strait of Gibraltar and Quaternary climatic fluctuations in the western Mediterranean: a case study with the greater white-toothed shrew Crocidura russula (Mammalia: Soricidae)
Cosson, Jean François; Hutterer, Rainer; Libois, Roland ULg et al

in Molecular Ecology (2005), 14

We used mitochondrial cyt b sequences to investigate the phylogenetic relationships of Crocidura russula (sensu lato) populations across the Strait of Gibraltar, western Europe, Maghreb, and the ... [more ▼]

We used mitochondrial cyt b sequences to investigate the phylogenetic relationships of Crocidura russula (sensu lato) populations across the Strait of Gibraltar, western Europe, Maghreb, and the Mediterranean and Atlantic islands. This revealed very low genetic divergence between European and Moroccan populations. The application of a molecular clock previously calibrated for shrews suggested that the separation of European from Moroccan lineages occurred less than 60000 BP, which is at least 5 million years (Myr) after the reopening of the Strait of Gibraltar. This means that an overwater dispersal event was responsible for the observed phylogeographical structure. In contrast, genetic analyses revealed that Moroccan populations were highly distinct from Tunisian ones. According to the molecular clock, these populations separated about 2.2 million years ago (Ma), a time marked by sharp alternations of dry and humid climates in the Maghreb. The populations of the Mediterranean islands Ibiza, Pantellaria, and Sardinian were founded from Tunisian populations by overwater dispersal. In conclusion, overwater dispersal across the Strait of Gibraltar, probably assisted by humans, is possible for small terrestrial vertebrates. Moreover, as in Europe, Quaternary climatic fluctuations had a major effect on the phylogeographical structure of the Maghreb biota. [less ▲]

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See detailMitochondrial phylogeography of the Woodmouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) in the Western Palearctic region.
Michaux, Johan ULg; Magnanou, E.; Paradis, E. et al

in Molecular Ecology (2003), 12(3), 685-97

We sequenced 965 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b from 102 woodmice (Apodemus sylvaticus) collected from 40 European localities. The aims of the study were to answer the following ... [more ▼]

We sequenced 965 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b from 102 woodmice (Apodemus sylvaticus) collected from 40 European localities. The aims of the study were to answer the following questions. (i) Did the Mediterranean peninsulas play a role as refuge for woodmice? (ii) Is genetic variability of A. sylvaticus higher in the Mediterranean region compared with northern Europe? (iii) Are the patterns of the postglacial colonization of Europe by woodmice similar to those presently recognized for other European species? The results provide a clear picture of the impact of the Quaternary glaciations on the genetic and geographical structure of the woodmouse. Our analyses indicate a higher genetic variability of woodmice in the Mediterranean peninsulas compared to northern Europe, suggesting a role of the former as refuge regions for this small mammal. An original pattern of postglacial colonization is proposed where the Iberian and southern France refuge populations colonized almost all European regions. The Sicilian population appears to be very differentiated and highly variable. This emphasizes the importance of this island as a 'hot spot' for the intraspecific genetic diversity of the woodmouse. Finally, woodmice in North Africa originated from southwestern Europe, most probably as a result of a recent anthropogenic introduction. [less ▲]

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