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Title: Genomic analysis of an introduced ascidian and implications for invasiveness
Author: Casso Carrasco, Maria
Director/Tutor: Pascual Berniola, Marta
Turón Barrera, Xavier
Keywords: Genètica de poblacions
Genètica animal
Espècies invasores
Population Genetics
Animal genetics
Invasive species
Sea squirts
Issue Date: 12-Mar-2020
Publisher: Universitat de Barcelona
Abstract: [eng] Invasive species constitute a major threat to global biodiversity and cause important economic losses and ecological impacts. In the marine realm, ascidians include several aggressive invasive species, some of which have worldwide colonisation ranges, such as Didemnum vexillum. In this thesis, some biological and ecological characteristics implicated in the invasiveness of the species are assessed. First, we performed a 20 month monitoring to determine settlement and growth preferences of invasive ascidian species in the Ebro Delta aquaculture facility, including D. vexillum. Our results indicated that D. vexillum has a preference for complex substrates. To minimise fouling on bivalves, spat immersion during fall and below 1 m depth is recommended. To detect new introduced species, a follow-up program based on occurrences would be sufficient. Second, a protocol for small DNA samples combining whole genome amplification (WGA) and genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) was developed and applied to D. vexillum using a single zooid per colony to determine patterns of genomic diversity and differentiation, describe the colonisation history of the species, and study its capability to form chimeras. Our results confirmed that Japan is in the native area of the species and only one clade spread worldwide. We found that the two main mitochondrial clades are strongly differentiated at the genomic level suggesting reproductive isolation, we determined that three independent colonisation events shaped the global distribution of the species, and we found that populations are diverse and well differentiated indicating a high expansion potential of D. vexillum. Third we detected high prevalence of chimerism, and fusion was unlinked to global genetic relatedness. Finally, we analysed the microbiome of D. vexillum that showed markedly different composition than a congeneric species and water. The invasive clade had a small but abundant core and a highly diverse variable microbiome component with a strong capacity to enrich the symbionts from the environment. The microbiome structure correlated to host genetic distance, temperature and geographical distances, pointing to vertical and horizontal transmission. In conclusion, D. vexillum is an aggressive invasive species with a high adaptive capacity that may contribute to the invasiveness of this global pest.
Appears in Collections:Tesis Doctorals - Facultat - Biologia

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