Parapatric genetic divergence among deep evolutionary lineages in the Mediterranean green crab, Carcinus aestuarii (Brachyura, Portunoidea, Carcinidae), accounts for a sharp phylogeographic break in the Eastern Mediterranean

Deli, Temim
Kalkan, Evrim
Karhan, Selahattin Ünsal
Uzunova, Sonya
Keikhosravi, Alireza
Bilgin, Raşit
Schubart, Christoph D.
bstract Background: Recently, population genetic studies of Mediterranean marine species highlighted patterns of genetic divergence and phylogeographic breaks, due to the interplay between impacts of Pleistocene climate shifts and contemporary hydrographical barriers. These factors markedly shaped the distribution of marine organisms and their genetic makeup. The present study is part of an ongoing effort to understand the phylogeography and evolutionary history of the highly dispersive Mediterranean green crab, Carcinus aestuarii (Nardo, 1847), across the Mediterranean Sea. Recently, marked divergence between two highly separated haplogroups (genetic types I and II) of C. aestuarii was discerned across the Siculo-Tunisian Strait, suggesting an Early Pleistocene vicariant event. In order to better identify phylogeographic patterns in this species, a total of 263 individuals from 22 Mediterranean locations were analysed by comparing a 587 basepair region of the mitochondrial gene Cox1 (cytochrome oxidase subunit 1). The examined dataset is composed of both newly generated sequences (76) and previously investigated ones (187). Results: Our results unveiled the occurrence of a highly divergent haplogroup (genetic type III) in the most north-eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. Divergence between the most distinct type III and the common ancestor of both types I and II corresponds to the Early Pleistocene and coincides with the historical episode of separation between types I and II. Our results also revealed strong genetic divergence among adjacent regions (separating the Aegean and Marmara seas from the remaining distribution zone) and confirmed a sharp phylogeographic break across the Eastern Mediterranean. The recorded parapatric genetic divergence, with the potential existence of a contact zone between both groups in the Ionian Sea and notable differences in the demographic history, suggest the likely impact of paleoclimatic events, as well as past and contemporary oceanographic processes, in shaping genetic variability of this species. Conclusions: Our findings not only provide further evidence for the complex evolutionary history of the green crab in the Mediterranean Sea, but also stress the importance of investigating peripheral areas in the species' distribution zone in order to fully understand the distribution of genetic diversity and unravel hidden genetic units and local patterns of endemism
BMC Evolutionary Biology


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Citation Formats
T. Deli et al., “Parapatric genetic divergence among deep evolutionary lineages in the Mediterranean green crab, Carcinus aestuarii (Brachyura, Portunoidea, Carcinidae), accounts for a sharp phylogeographic break in the Eastern Mediterranean,” BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2018, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: