Diversification in an archipelago setting: speciation of the brown seaweed Lobophora in French Polynesia

Internship position (12 ECTS)
Oceans and Lakes
The brown seaweed Lobophora (Dictyotales, Phaeophyceae) is a major benthic component in tropical reefs. Its species richness has only recently been revealed, with an estimated >100 species distributed worldwide in tropical and temperate regions. This remarkable diversity raises evolutionary questions related to the drivers and mechanisms of evolutionary diversification in seaweeds. The islands of French Polynesia cover an area the size of Europe. Due to the consequent distances between islands and archipelagos, French Polynesia represents a fascinating place to study diversification of endemic lineages within and between archipelagos/islands. For instance, the remote Marquesas show clear examples of adaptive radiation in birds, arthropods and snails. Surprisinlgy, there is only a limited number of studies on seaweed speciation in French Polynesia. At least 17 species of Lobophora are occurring in French Polynesia, including 8-12 endemic species. The connectivity between the five archipelagos appears to be very limited. Here, we want to explore diversification within and between archipelagos of the genus Lobophora based on microsatellites markers. This internship will aim to study Lobophora genetic diversity and structure of populations from 3 different species, within and among Marquesas Islands, using 8-10 microsatellites. Practical work will involve: (1) DNA extraction and microsatellite amplification, (2) scoring of polymorphisms, (3) analysis of genotypic diversity, and (4) analysis of genetic structure. Co-promotors: Christophe Vieira and Olivier De Clerck
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Reference Number: RP-48151