Cyclic parthenogenesis is the ancestral mode of reproduction in the cladoceran crustacean, Daphnia pulex, but some populations have made the transition to obligate parthenogenesis and this is the only mode of reproduction known to occur in arctic populations. Melanism and polyploidy are also common in arctic populations of this species. Prior allozyme studies of arctic D. pulex revealed substantial levels of clonal diversity on a regional scale. Clonal groupings based on cluster analysis of allozyme genotypes do not conform to groupings based on the presence/absence of melanin or on ploidy level. In order to further elucidate genetic relationships among arctic D. pulex clones, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation was examined in 31 populations from two Canadian high-arctic sites. The data were also compared to a previous study of mtDNA variation in populations from a Canadian low-arctic site. Cladistic analysis of restriction site variation of the entire mitochondrial genome and nucleotide sequence variation of the mitochondrial control region was used to construct genetic relationships among mitochondrial genotypes. Three distinct mitochondrial lineages were detected. One lineage was associated with diploid, nonmelanic clones and is the same as the lineage that is found in temperate populations of D. pulex. The other two lineages (A & B) were associated with polyploid, melanic clones. Sequence divergence between the A and B lineages was 2.4%. Sequence divergence between D. pulex and either of these two lineages exceeded 3%. It is suggested that the melanic, polyploid clones are hybrids between males of D. pulex (and/or a closely related congener, D. pulicaria) and females of either of two ancestral melanic species that have mitochondrial lineages A and B. Geographic patterns of mitochondrial diversity in ‘melanic’ lineage B support the hypothesis of an high-arctic refuge for the ancestral species during the last glacial period.
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