Adaptive responses along a depth and a latitudinal gradient in the endemic seagrass Posidonia oceanica

Marlene Jahnke, Daniela D’ Esposito, Luigi Orrù, Antonella Lamontanara, Emanuela Dattolo, Fabio Badalamenti, Silvia Mazzuca, Gabriele Procaccini, Luisa Orsini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
192 Downloads (Pure)


Seagrass meadows provide important ecosystem services and are critical to the survival of the associated invertebrate community. However, they are threatened worldwide by human-driven environmental change. Understanding the seagrasses’ potential for adaptation is critical to assess not only their ability to persist under future global change scenarios, but also to assess the persistence of the associated communities.
Here, we screened wild population of Posidonia oceanica, an endemic long- lived seagrass in the Mediterranean Sea, for genes that may be target of environmental selection, using an outlier and a genome-wide transcriptome analysis. We identified loci, which polymorphism or differential expression was associated with either a latitudinal or a bathymetric gradient, as well as with both gradients, in an effort to identify loci associated with temperature and light. We found candidate genes underlying growth and immunity to be divergent between populations adapted to different latitudes and/or depths, providing evidence for local adaptation. Furthermore, we found evidence of reduced gene flow among populations, including adjacent populations. Reduced gene flow, combined with low sexual recombination, small effective population size, and long generation time of P. oceanica, raises concerns for the long-term persistence of this species, especially in the face of rapid environmental change driven by human activities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2018


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