Rapid evolution of troglomorphic characters suggests selection rather than neutral mutation as a driver of eye reduction in cave crabs

Sebastian KLAUS*, Jose C.E. MENDOZA, Jia Huan LIEW, Martin PLATH, Rudolf MEIER, Darren C.J. YEO

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study asked whether reductive traits in cave organisms evolve at a slower pace (suggesting neutral evolution under relaxed selection) than constructive changes, which are likely to evolve under directional selection. We investigated 11 subterranean and seven surface populations of Sundathelphusa freshwater crabs on Bohol Island, Philippines, and examined constructive traits associated with improved food finding in darkness (increased leg and setae length) and reductive traits (reduced cornea size and eyestalk length). All changes occurred rapidly, given that the age of the most recent common ancestor was estimated to be 722-271 ka based on three mitochondrial markers. In order to quantify the speed of character change, we correlated the degree of morphological change with genetic distances between surface and subterranean individuals. The temporal pattern of character change following the transition to subterranean life was indistinguishable for constructive and reductive traits, characterized by an immediate onset and rapid evolutionary change. We propose that the evolution of these reductive traits-just like constructive traits-is most likely driven by strong directional selection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20121098
JournalBiology Letters
Volume9
Issue number2
Early online date23 Apr 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright:
Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Neutral evolution
  • Regressive evolution
  • Relaxed selection
  • Sundathelphusa
  • Trait reduction

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