Open Access Open Badges Research article

Fine-scale temporal and spatial variation of taxon and clonal structure in the Daphnia longispina hybrid complex in heterogeneous environments

Mingbo Yin12*, Adam Petrusek3, Jaromir Seda4 and Justyna Wolinska1

Author Affiliations

1 Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Department Biologie II, Evolutionsökologie, Großhaderner Str. 2, D-82152 Planegg-Martinsried, Germany

2 Current address: Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China

3 Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Viničná 7, CZ-12844 Prague 2, Czech Republic

4 Biological Centre AS CR, Institute of Hydrobiology, Na Sádkách 7, CZ-37005 České Budějovice, Czech Republic

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2012, 12:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-12-12

Published: 27 January 2012



Cyclical parthenogenetic water fleas of the genus Daphnia have become a prominent model organism in ecology and evolution. In the past, analyses of their population structure have been limited by the prevailing use of allozyme markers, which in general do not allow for the distinction of individual clones. In this study, we used 10 microsatellite markers to track changes in the taxonomic and clonal composition of Daphnia populations, and traced the abundance of the most common clones in two European reservoirs. One of the localities was inhabited by a single species of the Daphnia longispina complex (D. galeata), the other by two parental species (D. galeata and D. longispina) and their interspecific hybrids. The study took place during the transition from summer stratification to autumn mixing, representing a period of major environmental change within lake habitats.


In both reservoirs, we observed temporal (generation-to-generation) and spatial (along the heterogeneous reservoir environment) changes in Daphnia community structure. In the single-species reservoir, the clonal diversity of D. galeata increased with time, as a few dominant clones were replaced by a higher number of less common clones. A loss in selective advantage for the dominant clones may have been due to gradual changes in the environment, or due to selection acting in a negative frequency-dependent manner. In the multispecies reservoir, there were no apparent temporal trends in clonal diversity but we observed significantly lower clonal diversity in the interspecific hybrids than in the coexisting parental species, supporting the existence of reproductive barriers between the parental genomes.


Our study, tracing clonal lineages of Daphnia in time and space by the fine-resolution markers, contributes to the understanding of how clonal reproduction impacts community structure in cyclically parthenogenetic organisms.