Cryptic diversity and dynamic chromosome evolution in Alpine scorpions (Euscorpiidae: Euscorpius).

Affiliation

Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Viničná 7, 12844 Prague, Czech Republic. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Over time, mountain biota has undergone complex evolutionary histories that have left imprints on its genomic arrangement, geographical distribution and diversity of contemporary lineages. Knowledge on these biogeographical aspects still lags behind for invertebrates inhabiting the Alpine region. In the present study, we examined three scorpion species of the subgenus Euscorpius (Alpiscorpius) from the European Alps using cytogenetic and molecular phylogenetic approaches to determine the variation and population structure of extant lineages at both chromosome and genetic level, and to provide an insight into the species diversification histories. We detected considerable intraspecific variability in chromosome complements and localization of the 18S rDNA loci in all studied species. Such chromosome differences were noticeable as the existence of three [in E. (A.) alpha and E. (A.) germanus] or four [in E. (A.) gamma] range-restricted karyotypic races. These races differed from one another either by 2n [in E. (A.) alpha 2n = 54, 60, 90; in E. (A.) gamma 2n = 58, 60, 88, 86-92], or by the karyotypic formula [in E. (A.) germanus 2n = 34m + 12sm; 36m + 10sm; 42m + 4sm]. Using mitochondrial (16S rRNA, COI) and nuclear (28S rDNA) genetic markers, we examined genetic variation and reconstructed phylogenetic relationships among the karyotypic races. Both approaches provided evidence for the existence of ten deeply divergent lineages exhibiting the features of local endemics and indicating the presence of cryptic species. Molecular dating analyses suggest that these lineages diversified during the Plio-Pleistocene and this process was presumably accompanied by dynamic structural changes in the genome organization.

Keywords

Alps,Cryptic species,Evolution,Karyotype evolution,Phylogeography,Species delimitation,