Origin and evolution of “dwarf” fucoid populations from NW Iberia

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Fucus spp. are brown seaweeds forming conspicuous intertidal stands in many open-shore and estuarine habitats. “Dwarf” ecological forms often develop in salt-marshes, mud-flats and other sheltered/depositional marine environments, where they coexist or not with individuals exhibiting “normal” morphologies. The simplified and highly convergent morphologies of “dwarf” populations make it difficult to establish which species they originally derive from, and their lack of reproductive structures suggest that they persist (and disperse) only via vegetative proliferation. The student will employ a range of molecular markers (mtDNA, microsatellites) and population genetic analyses to explore evolutionary questions concerning selected “dwarf” populations from NW Iberia, including: 1) Which species form “dwarf” populations? 2) Do “dwarf” populations originate independently (locally) in each estuary, or do they disperse along the shore? 3) Within estuaries, how frequent are normal-to-dwarf transitions? In the end, the student should be able to assign “dwarf” populations to recognized species, determine whether they form meta-populations or local evolutionary dead-ends, and have an estimate of how frequently new clonal lineages originate within estuaries. ** Populations were already sampled but visits to the estuarine sites can be arranged depending of the interest of the student.
Interest in evolutionary biology, personal computer
Number of students: 
academic year: 
Contact person email: 
contact person first name: 
João Neiva
Other people involved: 
Ester Serrão (Promotor)
Reference Number: RP-39921