JOURNAL ARTICLE

Phylogenetic congruence of lichenised fungi and algae is affected by spatial scale and taxonomic diversity

Hannah L Buckley, Arash Rafat, Johnathon D Ridden, Robert H Cruickshank, Hayley J Ridgway, Adrian M Paterson
PeerJ 2014, 2: e573
25250218
The role of species' interactions in structuring biological communities remains unclear. Mutualistic symbioses, involving close positive interactions between two distinct organismal lineages, provide an excellent means to explore the roles of both evolutionary and ecological processes in determining how positive interactions affect community structure. In this study, we investigate patterns of co-diversification between fungi and algae for a range of New Zealand lichens at the community, genus, and species levels and explore explanations for possible patterns related to spatial scale and pattern, taxonomic diversity of the lichens considered, and the level sampling replication. We assembled six independent datasets to compare patterns in phylogenetic congruence with varied spatial extent of sampling, taxonomic diversity and level of specimen replication. For each dataset, we used the DNA sequences from the ITS regions of both the fungal and algal genomes from lichen specimens to produce genetic distance matrices. Phylogenetic congruence between fungi and algae was quantified using distance-based redundancy analysis and we used geographic distance matrices in Moran's eigenvector mapping and variance partitioning to evaluate the effects of spatial variation on the quantification of phylogenetic congruence. Phylogenetic congruence was highly significant for all datasets and a large proportion of variance in both algal and fungal genetic distances was explained by partner genetic variation. Spatial variables, primarily at large and intermediate scales, were also important for explaining genetic diversity patterns in all datasets. Interestingly, spatial structuring was stronger for fungal than algal genetic variation. As the spatial extent of the samples increased, so too did the proportion of explained variation that was shared between the spatial variables and the partners' genetic variation. Different lichen taxa showed some variation in their phylogenetic congruence and spatial genetic patterns and where greater sample replication was used, the amount of variation explained by partner genetic variation increased. Our results suggest that the phylogenetic congruence pattern, at least at small spatial scales, is likely due to reciprocal co-adaptation or co-dispersal. However, the detection of these patterns varies among different lichen taxa, across spatial scales and with different levels of sample replication. This work provides insight into the complexities faced in determining how evolutionary and ecological processes may interact to generate diversity in symbiotic association patterns at the population and community levels. Further, it highlights the critical importance of considering sample replication, taxonomic diversity and spatial scale in designing studies of co-diversification.

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