Rapid adaptive divergence between ecotypes of an aquatic isopod inferred from FSTQST analysis


Fabrice Eroukhmanoff, Fax: +46 46 222 47 16; E-mail: Fabrice.eroukhmanoff@zooekol.lu.se


Divergent natural selection is often thought to be the principal factor driving phenotypic differentiation between populations. We studied two ecotypes of the aquatic isopod Asellus aquaticus which have diverged in parallel in several Swedish lakes. In these lakes, isopods from reed belts along the shores colonized new stonewort stands in the centre of the lakes and rapid phenotypic changes in size and pigmentation followed after colonization. We investigated if selection was likely to be responsible for these observed phenotypic changes using indirect inferences of selection (FSTQST analysis). Average QST for seven quantitative traits were higher than the average FST between ecotypes for putatively neutral markers (AFLPs). This suggests that divergent natural selection has played an important role during this rapid diversification. In contrast, the average QST between the different reed ecotype populations was not significantly different from the mean FST. Genetic drift could therefore not be excluded as an explanation for the minor differences between allopatric populations inhabiting the same source habitat. We complemented this traditional FSTQST approach by comparing the FST distributions across all loci (n = 67–71) with the QST for each of the seven traits. This analysis revealed that pigmentation traits had diverged to a greater extent and at higher evolutionary rates than size-related morphological traits. In conclusion, this extended and detailed type of FSTQST analysis provides a powerful method to infer adaptive phenotypic divergence between populations. However, indirect inferences about the operation of divergent selection should be analyzed on a per-trait basis and complemented with detailed ecological information.