Molecular phylogeny and historical biogeography of Nacella (Patellogastropoda: Nacellidae) in the Southern Ocean
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The evolution and the historical biogeography of the Southern Ocean marine benthic fauna are closely related to major tectonic and climatic changes that occurred in this region during the last 55 million years (Ma). Several families, genera and even species of marine organisms are shared between distant biogeographic provinces in this region. This pattern of distribution in marine benthic invertebrates has been commonly explained by vicariant speciation due to plate tectonics. However, recent molecular studies have provided new evidence for long-distance dispersion as a plausible explanation of biogeographical patterns in the Southern Ocean. True limpets of the genus Nacella are currently distributed in different biogeographic regions of the Southern Ocean such as Antarctica, Kerguelen Province, southern New Zealand Antipodean Province, North-Central Chile and South American Magellanic Province. Here, we present phylogenetic reconstructions using two mitochondrial DNA markers (Cytochrome Oxidase I and Cytochrome b) to look into the relationships among Nacella species and to determine the origin and diversification of the genus. Phylogenies were reconstructed using two methods, Maximum Parsimony and Bayesian Inference, while divergence time among Nacella species was estimated following a relaxed Bayesian approach. For this purpose, we collected inter- and subtidal species belonging to four biogeographic regions in the Southern Ocean: Antarctica, Kerguelen Province, Central Chile, and Magellanic Province. Our molecular results agree with previous morphological and molecular studies supporting the monophyly of Nacella and its sister relationship with Cellana. Two rounds of diversification are recognized in the evolution of Nacella. The first one occurred at the end of the Miocene and gave rise to the main lineages, currently distributed in Antarctica, South America or Kerguelen Province. Large genetic divergence was detected among Nacella species from these distant biogeographic provinces emphasizing the significance of trans-oceanic discontinuities and suggesting long-distance dispersal was relatively unimportant. The second diversification round consisted of a more recent Pleistocene radiation in the Magellanic region. In this province, different morphological species of Nacella exhibit extreme low levels of genetic divergence with absence of reciprocal monophyly among them. According to our time estimation, the origin and diversification of Nacella in the Southern Ocean is more recent (<15 MY) than the expected under the hypothesis of vicariant speciation due to plate tectonics. The evolution of this genus seems to be closely related to drastic climatic and oceanographic changes in the Southern Ocean during the middle-Miocene climatic transition. In spite of the high number of species described for the Magellanic Province, molecular results indicate that these species are the most derived ones in the evolution of the genus and therefore that the Magellanic region does not need to correspond to the origin center of Nacella. The absence of genetic divergence among these species supports a very recent radiation process accompanied by rapid morphological and ecological diversification.
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