Role of ancient lakes in genetic and phenotypic diversification of freshwater snails

Takahiro Hirano, Takumi Saito, Yoshihiro Tsunamoto, Joichiro Koseki, Larisa Prozorova, Van Tu Do, Keiji Matsuoka, Katsuki Nakai, Yoshihisa Suyama, Satoshi Chiba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Endemic organisms of ancient lakes have been studied as models to understand processes of speciation and adaptive radiation. However, it remains unclear how ancient lakes play roles in genetic and phenotypic diversity of freshwater mollusks. In the present study, we focus on viviparid freshwater snails in the ancient lakes of East and Southeast Asia (Japan and China) to address this question. Using molecular phylogenetic analyses based on mitochondrial (COI, 16S) and nuclear genes (18S, 28S, H3), we show that patterns of species diversification in viviparid lineages. Colonization to ancient lakes occurred independently in China and Japan at least four times, with subsequent diversification into more than two species within each lake group. Morphological analyses of fossil related viviparids suggest parallel phenotypic evolution occurred in the different lakes and ages. Each lake contained a single lineage which was phenotypically diversified relative to those from other sites. Using genome-wide SNPs obtained by MIG-seq, we also examined the genetic structure of three Japanese viviparids, including two endemic species of ancient Lake Biwa. The results suggest that these two species diversified from the population of the third species living in wetlands surrounding the lake. These findings suggest that rapid diversification of lineages and phenotypic divergence can occur in ancient lakes compared to other habitats. Formation of large lakes probably promotes speciation and phenotypic divergence as a result of adaptation into different microhabitats. High numbers of ancient lakes could be a driver of species diversity in Asian viviparid snails.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5032-5051
Number of pages20
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1


  • phenotype
  • phylogenomics
  • shell shape
  • Viviparidae


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