Genetic characterization of an arctic zooplankter: insights into geographic polyploidy

T J Little, R Demelo, D J Taylor, P D N Hebert

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Species of Bosmina from the temperate regions of North America and Europe are diploid and reproduce by cyclical parthenogenesis. By contrast, this study provides evidence that the dominant bosminid taxon in High Arctic lakes reproduces by obligate parthenogenesis and is a polyploid derived from interspecific hybridization. Sinobosmina liederi, a species common in temperate North America, is likely to have been one parent of these hybrids, but the other parent is unknown. As neither parent was detected in the Arctic, it seems unlikely that the hybrid clones that now occupy arctic lakes were synthesized locally. Most habitats contained only one or two clones, despite a total of 38 clones in the region, suggesting that priority effects have been important in restricting diversity within single lakes. The high regional diversity of arctic bosminids could reflect either repeated hybridization between the parent taxa or the genetic instability of newly formed polyploid lineages. These processes would produce hybrid polyploids that are considerably more diverse than their sexual parent taxa, and this difference in genetic diversity may confer an advantage to the polyploid biotype. As many zooplankton taxa from the arctic possess genetic characteristics similar to those of bosminids, these processes may provide a general explanation for the widespread occurrence of polyploids in the Arctic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1363-1370
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Issue number1386
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 1997

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