Comparative phylogeography among hydrothermal vent species along the East Pacific Rise reveals vicariant processes and population expansion in the South. Academic Article uri icon


  • The use of sequence polymorphism from individual mitochondrial genes to infer past demography has recently proved controversial because of the recurrence of selective sweeps acting over genes and the need for unlinked multilocus data sets. However, comparative analyses using several species for one gene and/or multiple genes for one species can serve as a test for potential selective effects and clarify our understanding of historical demographic effects. This study compares nucleotide polymorphisms in mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I across seven deep-sea hydrothermal vent species that live along the volcanically active East Pacific Rise. Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) method, developed to trace shared vicariant events across species pairs, indicates the occurrence of two across species divergence times, and suggests that the present geographical patterns of genetic differentiation may be explained by two periods of significant population isolation. The oldest period dates back 11.6 Ma and is associated with the vent limpet Lepetodrilus elevatus, while the most recent period of isolation is 1.3 Ma, which apparently affected all species examined and coincides with a transition zone across the equator. Moreover, significant negative Tajima's D and star-like networks were observed for all southern lineages, suggesting that these lineages experienced a concomitant demographic and geographical expansion about 100 000-300 000 generations ago. This expansion may have initiated from a wave of range expansions during the secondary colonization of new sites along the Southern East Pacific Rise (founder effects below the equator) or recurrent bottleneck events because of the increase of eruptive phases associated with the higher spreading rates of the ridge in this region.

publication date

  • September 2009