Turbellarian taxonomic database

Record # 22683
Lorch S, Zeuss D, Brandl, R, Braendle M (2016)
Chromosome numbers in three species groups of freshwater flatworms increase with increasing latitude.
Ecology and Evolution, 6(5): 1420-1429

Abstract / Notes

"Polyploidy in combination with parthenogenesis offers advantages for plasticity and the evolution of a broad ecological tolerance of species. Therefore, a positive correlation between the level of ploidy and increasing latitude as a surrogate for environmental harshness has been suggested. Such a positive correlation is well documented for plants, but examples for animals are still rare. Species of flatworms (Platyhelminthes) are widely distributed, show a remarkably wide range of chromosome numbers, and offer therefore good model systems to study the geographical distribution of chromosome numbers. We analyzed published data on counts of chromosome numbers and geographical information of three flatworm "species" (Phagocata vitta, Polycelis felina and Crenobia alpina) sampled across Europe (220 populations). We used the mean chromosome number across individuals of a population as a proxy for the level of ploidy within populations, and we tested for relationships of this variable with latitude, mode of reproduction (sexual, asexual or both) and environmental variables (annual mean temperature, mean diurnal temperature range, mean precipitation and net primary production). The mean chromosome numbers of all three species increased with latitude and decreased with mean annual temperature. For two species, chromosome number also decreased with mean precipitation and net primary production. Furthermore, high chromosome numbers within species were accompanied with a loss of sexual reproduction. The variation of chromosome numbers within individuals of two of the three species increased with latitude. Our results support the hypothesis that polyploid lineages are able to cope with harsh climatic conditions at high latitudes. Furthermore, we propose that asexual reproduction in populations with high levels of polyploidization stabilizes hybridization events. Chromosomal irregularities within individuals tend to become more frequent at the extreme environments of high latitudes, presumably because of mitotic errors and downsizing of the genome."

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