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Genetic variation in the Desert Springsnail (Tryonia porrecta): implications for reproductive mode and dispersal

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Allozymes and mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (mtCOI) sequences were analysed to determine whether populations of the western North American gastropod Tryonia porrecta (from California, Nevada, Utah, and northwest Mexico) are strongly differentiated in accordance with traditional interpretation of regional fauna as ancient relicts inhabiting isolated fragments of late Tertiary palaeodrainages. These data were also used to assess whether this species, for which males have not been recorded, is a rare example of a molluscan parthenogen. Both data sets strongly supported monophyly of T. porrecta populations. Five of the nine sampled populations consisted of a single monoallelic allozyme genotype while the others contained two to 10 distinct genotypes. Allozymic data for genetically diverse Utah populations provided evidence of clonal and sexual reproduction. mtCOI haplotypes of T. porrecta formed two subgroups which differed by 1.99–2.60%. The common haplotype was found in seven populations with rare haplotypes observed in single populations. Based on these results and an available mtCOI molecular clock for related hydrobiid snails, T. porrecta is interpreted as a primarily parthenogenetic species that undergoes occasional sexual reproduction and has accumulated substantial diversity following its mid-Pliocene to mid-Pleistocene origin. Our results also suggest that the distribution of present-day populations of these gill-breathing snails did not result from fragmentation of an ancient, well-integrated drainage but instead reflects overland colonization of habitats which only recently became available following desiccation of late Quaternary pluvial lakes.
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Keywords: Gastropoda; Tryonia; allozymes; biogeography; mtDNA; parthenogenesis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, NHB W-305, MRC 163, Washington, D.C. 20013–7012, 2: 121 York Point Drive, Seaford, VA 23696, 3: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA

Publication date: 01 May 2005

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