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Distribution and phylogeny of glacier ice worms (Mesenchytraeus solifugus and Mesenchytraeus solifugus rainierensis)

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Abstract:

Glacier ice worms, Mesenchytraeus solifugus (Emery, 1898) and Mesenchytraeus solifugus rainierensis Welch, 1916 (Enchytraeidae), are the only known oligochaetes adapted to life in ice. We have collected ice worm specimens from over 100 populations throughout the Pacific northwestern region of North America. Their current range extends ~2500 km along the Pacific coastline between south-central Alaska and central Oregon, with most populations occurring on relatively low-elevation, temperate glaciers. Phylogenetic analyses utilizing partial nuclear 28S rDNA and mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) loci revealed the presence of two geographically distinct clades (northern and southern). The northern clade comprises all Alaskan populations, while the southern clade contains British Columbia, Washington State, and Oregon State populations. No evidence of gene flow was detected between these two lineages or between noncontiguous glaciers throughout their geographic range. Our results suggest that the mechanism of ice worm dispersal is primarily active, though at least one episode of passive dispersal is noted at the southern extent of their range.

Les vers de glaciers, Mesenchytraeus solifugus (Emery, 1898) et Mesenchytraeus solifugus rainierensis Welch, 1916 (Enchytraeidae), sont les seuls oligochètes connus adaptés à la vie dans la glace. Nous avons récolté des spécimens de vers de glaciers dans plus de 100 populations dans toute la région pacifique du nord-ouest de l'Amérique du Nord. Leur répartition actuelle couvre ~2500 km le long de la côte du Pacifique, du centre-sud de l'Alaska au centre de l'Oregon, la plupart des populations se retrouvant sur des glaciers tempérés d'altitude relativement basse. Des analyses phylogénétiques basées sur le séquençage partiel des locus de l'ADNr 28S nucléaire et de la sous-unité I de la cytochrome c oxydase (COI) mitochondriale révèlent l'existence de deux clades distincts (boréal et austral). Le clade boréal regroupe toutes les populations de l'Alaska, alors que le clade austral contient les populations de Colombie-Britannique et des états de Washington et d'Oregon. Nous ne décelons aucune indication de flux génétique entre ces deux lignées, ni entre les populations de glaciers non contigus dans l'ensemble de l'aire de répartition. Nos résultats laissent croire que les mécanismes de dispersion des vers de glaciers sont surtout de type actif; il a cependant un cas de dispersion passive à signaler à l'extrême sud de leur aire de répartition.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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