Effect of climate history on the genetic structure of an Antarctic soil nematode

TitleEffect of climate history on the genetic structure of an Antarctic soil nematode
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsJackson, AC
Secondary AuthorsAdams, BJ
Academic DepartmentBiology
Date Published12/2022
UniversityBrigham Young University
CityProvo, UT, USA
Thesis TypeMaster's thesis
KeywordsAntarctica, biogeography, climate disturbance, evolution, McMurdo Dry Valleys, polar, population genetics

Historical climate disturbances such as glacial cycling and fluctuating stream, lake, and sea levels strongly influence the distribution and evolutionary trajectories of Antarctic terrestrial species. Antarctic invertebrates, with limited long-range mobility, including the ubiquitous sentinel nematode species Scottnema lindsayae, are especially sensitive to climate disturbances. We tested hypotheses associated with the historical geographic and population genetic structure of this species as it occurs across the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDVs) of Antarctica. In order to reconstruct the influence of climate disturbance and ecological conditions on this species, partial mitochondrial COI gene sequences were sequenced and analyzed from individual S. lindsayae collected from sites across the MDVs reflecting a opposing gradients of climate disturbance during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). We found that populations were strongly geomorphic barriers with distinct haplotypes associated with valleys except among valleys that experienced glacial advance and retreat during the LGM. One monophyletic clade corresponds with valley systems that were undisturbed during the LGM indicating putative refugia areas. A second monophyletic clade corresponds to recent dispersal and expansion of evolutionarily younger populations into valleys that were strongly reworked by glacial activity during the LGM. Our work shows that contemporary populations of these animals are strongly structured by prior climate history. Such findings can be useful for interpreting long-term monitoring of demographic shifts of soil organisms in response to changing climate trends in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.