Invasion success of a Lessepsian symbiont-bearing foraminifera linked to high dispersal ability, preadaptation and suppression of sexual reproduction

Débora S. Raposo, Rebecca A. Zufall, Antonio Caruso, Danna Titelboim, Sigal Abramovich, Christiane Hassenrück, Michal Kucera, Raphaël Morard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Among the most successful Lessepsian invaders is the symbiont-bearing benthic foraminifera Amphistegina lobifera. In its newly conquered habitat, this prolific calcifier and ecosystem engineer is exposed to environmental conditions that exceed the range of its native habitat. To disentangle which processes facilitated the invasion success of A. lobifera into the Mediterranean Sea we analyzed a ~ 1400 bp sequence fragment covering the SSU and ITS gene markers to compare the populations from its native regions and along the invasion gradient. The genetic variability was studied at four levels: intra-genomic, population, regional and geographical. We observed that the invasion is not associated with genetic differentiation, but the invasive populations show a distinct suppression of intra-genomic variability among the multiple copies of the rRNA gene. A reduced genetic diversity compared to the Indopacific is observed already in the Red Sea populations and their high dispersal potential into the Mediterranean appears consistent with a bridgehead effect resulting from the postglacial expansion from the Indian Ocean into the Red Sea. We conclude that the genetic structure of the invasive populations reflects two processes: high dispersal ability of the Red Sea source population pre-adapted to Mediterranean conditions and a likely suppression of sexual reproduction in the invader. This discovery provides a new perspective on the cost of invasion in marine protists: The success of the invasive A. lobifera in the Mediterranean Sea comes at the cost of abandonment of sexual reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12578
JournalScientific Reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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