Population differentiation of the African cyprinid Barbus neumayeri across dissolved oxygen regimes



Mery L. Martinez, Department of Biology, Laurentian University, 935 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, Ontario P3E 2C6, Canada. Tel: 1-705-675-1151 ext.2293; Fax: 1-705-675-4859; E-mail: mmartinezgarcia@laurentian.ca


Population level response to hypoxia has become an issue of global significance because of increased frequency and intensity of hypoxic events worldwide, and the potential for global warming to exacerbate hypoxic stress. In this study, we sequenced two nuclear intronic regions and a single mitochondrial region across seven populations of the African cyprinid, Barbus neumayeri from two river drainages in Uganda: the Rwembaita Swamp-Njuguta River System and the Dura River. We then examined two indices of population structure, GST and Jost's D, to detect links between oxygen availability and genetic variation and to determine if population genetic structure was associated with (i) dissolved oxygen regime (hypoxia or normoxia), (ii) geographical distance, or (iii) a combination of dissolved oxygen regime and geographical distance. Our results indicate that over a large scale (between drainages), geographical distance significantly affects the genetic structure of populations. However, within a single drainage, dissolved oxygen regime plays a key role in determining the genetic structure of populations. Within the Rwembaita-Njuguta system, gene flow was high between locations of similar oxygen regimes, but low between areas characterized by divergent oxygen regimes. Interestingly, GST analyses appear to yield less realistic measures of population structure than Jost's D, suggesting that caution must be taken when interpreting and comparing the results from different studies. These results support the idea that aquatic dissolved oxygen can act as a selective force limiting gene flow among populations of aquatic species and therefore should be considered when implementing conservation plans and assessing environmental impact of human activities.