Adaptive divergence across Southern Ocean gradients in the pelagic diatom Fragilariopsis kerguelensis

Ute Postel, Barbara Glemser, Katherine Salazar Alekseyeva, Sarah Lena Eggers, Marco Groth, Gernot Glöckner, Uwe John, Thomas Mock, Kerstin Klemm, Klaus Valentin, Bánk Beszteri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


The Southern Ocean is characterized by longitudinal water circulations crossed by strong latitudinal gradients. How this oceanographic background shapes planktonic populations is largely unknown, despite the significance of this region for global biogeochemical cycles. Here, we show, based on genomic, morphometric, ecophysiological and mating compatibility data, an example of ecotypic differentiation and speciation within an endemic pelagic inhabitant, the diatom Fragilariopsis kerguelensis. We discovered three genotypic variants, one present throughout the latitudinal transect sampled, the others restricted to the north and south, respectively. The latter two showed reciprocal monophyly across all three genomes and significant ecophysiological differences consistent with local adaptation, but produced viable offspring in laboratory crosses. The third group was also reproductively isolated from the latter two. We hypothesize that this pattern originated by an adaptive expansion accompanied by ecotypic divergence, followed by sympatric speciation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4913-4924
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number24
Early online date16 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Southern Ocean
  • adaptive divergence
  • diatom
  • pelagic
  • population structure
  • speciation

Cite this