Genetic structure in Orchesella cincta (Collembola): strong subdivision of European populations inferred from mtDNA and AFLP markers

M J T N Timmermans, J Ellers, J Mariën, S C Verhoef, E.B. Ferwerda, N M VAN Straalen

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Population genetic structure is determined both by current processes and historical events. Current processes include gene flow, which is largely influenced by the migration capacity of a species. Historical events are, for example, glaciation periods, which have had a major impact on the distribution of many species. Species with a low capacity or tendency to move about or disperse often exhibit clear spatial genetic structures, whereas mobile species mostly show less spatial genetic differentiation. In this paper we report on the genetic structure of a small, wingless arthropod species (Orchesella cincta: Collembola) in Europe. For this purpose we used mtDNA COII sequences and AFLP markers. We show that large genetic differences exist between populations of O. cincta, as expected from O. cincta's winglessness and sedentary lifestyle. Despite the fact that most variability was observed within populations (59%), a highly significant amount of AFLP variation (25%) was observed between populations from northwestern Europe, central Europe and Italy. This suggests that gene flow among regions is extremely low, which is additionally supported by the lack of shared mtDNA alleles between regions. Based on the genetic variation and sequence differences observed we conclude that the subdivision occurred long before the last glaciation periods. Although the populations still interbreed in the lab, we assume that in the long term the genetic isolation of these regions may lead to speciation processes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2017-2024
    Number of pages8
    JournalMolecular Ecology
    Issue number7
    Early online date3 May 2005
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


    • Analysis of Variance
    • Animals
    • Base Sequence
    • Cluster Analysis
    • DNA Primers
    • DNA, Mitochondrial
    • Demography
    • Europe
    • Evolution, Molecular
    • Genetic Variation
    • Genetics, Population
    • Geography
    • Insects
    • Molecular Sequence Data
    • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
    • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
    • Population Dynamics
    • Sequence Analysis, DNA
    • Comparative Study
    • Journal Article


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