Galindo, J., Carvalho, J., Sotelo, G., Duvetorp, M., Costa, D., Kemppainen, P., Panova, M., Kaliontzopoulou, A., Johannesson, K. & Faria, R. (2020) Genetic and morphological divergence between Littorina fabalis ecotypes in Northern Europe.Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 31(1), 97-113. DOI:10.1111/jeb.13705 (IF2020 2,411; Q2 Evolutionary Biology)
Low dispersal marine intertidal species facing strong divergent selective pressures associated with steep environmental gradients have a great potential to inform us about local adaptation and reproductive isolation. Among these, gastropods of the genus Littorina offer a unique system to study parallel phenotypic divergence resulting from adaptation to different habitats related with wave exposure. In this study, we focused on two Littorina fabalis ecotypes from Northern European shores and compared patterns of habitat-related phenotypic and genetic divergence across three different geographic levels (local, regional and global). Geometric morphometric analyses revealed that individuals from habitats moderately exposed to waves usually present a larger shell size with a wider aperture than those from sheltered habitats. The phenotypic clustering of L. fabalis by habitat across most locations (mainly in terms of shell size) support an important role of ecology in morphological divergence. A genome scan based on amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) revealed a heterogeneous pattern of differentiation across the genome between populations from the two different habitats, suggesting ecotype divergence in the presence of gene flow. The contrasting patterns of genetic structure between nonoutlier and outlier loci, and the decreased sharing of outlier loci with geographic distance among locations are compatible with parallel evolution of phenotypic divergence, with an important contribution of gene flow and/or ancestral variation. In the future, model-based inference studies based on sequence data across the entire genome will help unravelling these evolutionary hypotheses, improving our knowledge about adaptation and its influence on diversification within the marine realm.