Evolution of asexual daphnia pulex in japan: Variations and covariations of the digestive, morphological and life history traits

Xiaofei Tian, Hajime Ohtsuki, Jotaro Urabe

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Several genetic lineages of obligate parthenogenetic Daphnia pulex, a common zooplankton species, have invaded Japan from North America. Among these, a lineage named JPN1 is thought to have started colonization as a single genotype several hundred to thousand years ago and subsequently produced many genotypes in Japan. To examine the phenotypic variations due to ecological drivers diverging the genotypes in new habitats, we measured heritability and variation in 17 traits, including life history, morphology and digestive traits, and the genetic distance among the D. pulex JPN1 genotypes in Japan. Results: We found that most of the traits measured varied significantly among the genotypes and that heritability was highest in the morphological traits, followed by the digestive and life history traits. In addition, 93% of the variation in these traits was explained by the first three components in the principal component analysis, implying that variation of these heritable traits is not random but rather converged into a few directions. These relations among traits revealed the potential importance of predation pressures and food conditions as factors for diverging and selecting different genotypes. However, the magnitude of the difference in any single trait group did not correlate with the genetic distance. Conclusions: Our findings show that the divergent traits evolved within D. pulex JPN1 lineage without genetic recombination, since their ancestral clone invaded Japan. Large variations and covariations of the phenotypic traits, irrespective of the genetic distance among the genotypes, support the view that the invasive success of D. pulex JPN1 was promoted by a genetic architecture that allowed for large phenotypic variations with a limited number of functionally important mutations without recombination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun 13


  • Daphnia
  • Digestive traits
  • Genetic distance
  • Heritability
  • Invasive species
  • Life history traits
  • Morphological traits
  • Phenotypic distance


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