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Phenotypic variation in sexually and asexually recruited individuals of the Baltic Sea endemic macroalga Fucus radicans: in the field and after growth in a common-garden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Botany.
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2012 (English)In: BMC Ecology, ISSN 1472-6785, Vol. 12, 2- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND: Most species of brown macroalgae recruit exclusively sexually. However, Fucus radicans, a dominant species in the northern Baltic Sea, recruits new attached thalli both sexually and asexually. The level of asexual recruitment varies among populations from complete sexual recruitment to almost (> 90%) monoclonal populations. If phenotypic traits have substantial inherited variation, low levels of sexual activity will decrease population variation in these traits, which may affect function and resilience of the species. We assessed the level of inherited variation in nine phenotypic traits by comparing variation within and among three monoclonal groups and one group of unique multilocus genotypes (MLGs) sampled in the wild.

RESULTS: Of the nine phenotypic traits, recovery after freezing, recovery after desiccation, and phlorotannin content showed substantial inherited variation, that is, phenotypic variation in these traits were to a large extend genetically determined. In contrast, variation in six other phenotypic traits (growth rate, palatability to isopod grazers, thallus width, distance between dichotomies, water content after desiccation and photochemical yield under ambient conditions) did not show significant signals of genetic variation at the power of analyses used in the study. Averaged over all nine traits, phenotypic variation within monoclonal groups was only 68% of the variation within the group of different MLGs showing that genotype diversity does affect the overall level of phenotypic variation in this species.

CONCLUSIONS: Our result indicates that, in general, phenotypic diversity in populations of Fucus radicans increases with increased multilocus genotype (MLG) diversity, but effects are specific for individual traits. In the light of Fucus radicans being a foundation species of the northern Baltic Sea, we propose that increased MLG diversity (leading to increased trait variation) will promote ecosystem function and resilience in areas where F. radicans is common, but this suggestion needs experimental support.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 12, 2- p.
Keyword [en]
Phenotypic traits, Inherited varitaion, Foundation species, Ecosystem function
National Category
Botany Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79475DOI: 10.1186/1472-6785-12-2ISI: 000303159100001PubMedID: 22356775OAI: diva2:549443
Available from: 2012-09-05 Created: 2012-09-04 Last updated: 2012-09-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Herbivory, phenotypic variation, and reproductive barriers in fucoids
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Herbivory, phenotypic variation, and reproductive barriers in fucoids
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Along the shores of the Northern hemisphere Fucus (Phaeophyceae) species are a prominent presence, providing substrate, shelter, and food for many species. Fucus evanescens, a non-indigenous species (NIS) in Sweden, and F. radicans, a recently described species that so far has only been found inside the species poor Baltic Sea, are the focus of this thesis.

Interactions with enemies (e.g. predators, herbivores, parasites) have been shown to play a role in the success of NIS. The low consumption of Fucus evanescens by the generalist gastropod Littorina littorea in Sweden was found to depend on high levels of chemical defense in the introduced population, not the failure of the herbivore to recognize F. evanescens as suitable food.

A survey of the relative abundance of F. radicans and F. vesiculosus and the most common associated fauna along the Swedish Bothnian Sea coast showed that F. radicans and F. vesiculosus are equally abundant throughout the range of F. radicans. The most common associated fauna were found to be more abundant on F. radicans compared to F. vesiculosus.  In Sweden, where F. radicans had lower levels of defense chemicals than F. vesiculosus, F. radicans was grazed more than F. vesiculosus in bioassays. This could, together with other factors, influence the range of F. radicans.

Fucus radicans and F. vesiculosus are closely related, recently separated, and growing sympatrically, therefore, possible reproductive barriers between F. radicans and F. vesiculosus were studied. In Estonia F. radicans and F. vesiculosus reproduces at different times of the year. No such clear reproductive barrier was found between the two species in Sweden where they reproduce at the same time and fertilization success and germling survival were the same for hybrids as for F. vesiculosus.

Since the high clonality of F. radicans means that the gentic diversity in F. radicans populations is low I investigated how genetic diversity translates to phenotypic diversity in nine traits. Phlorotannin levels, recovery after desiccation, and recovery after freezing showed inherited variation, while the other six traits showed no variation related to genetic diversity. Phenotypic variation in populations of F. radicans will be higher in populations with higher genetic diversity and this might be beneficial to the community.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Botany, Stockholm University, 2012. 49 p.
Non-indigenous species, Enemy Release Hypothesis, Asexual reproduction, Phlorotannins, Distribution
National Category
Research subject
Plant Ecology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79481 (URN)978-91-7447-538-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-10-11, föreläsningssalen, Botaniska institutionen, Lilla Frescativägen 5, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Accepted.

Available from: 2012-09-19 Created: 2012-09-04 Last updated: 2012-09-06Bibliographically approved

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