Understanding nucleotide variation in natural populations has been a subject of great interest for decades. However, many taxonomic groups, especially those with atypical life history attributes remain unstudied, and Drosophila is the only arthropod genus for which DNA polymorphism data are presently abundant. As a result of the recent release of the complete genome sequence and a wide variety of new genomic resources, the Daphnia system is quickly becoming a promising new avenue for expanding our knowledge of nucleotide variation in natural populations. Here, we examine nucleotide variation in six protein-coding loci for Daphnia pulex and its congeners with particular emphasis on D. pulicaria, the closest extant relative of D. pulex. Levels of synonymous intraspecific variation, πs, averaged 0.0136 for species in the Daphnia genus, and are slightly lower than most prior estimates in invertebrates. Tests of neutrality indicated that segregating variation conforms to neutral model expectations for the loci that we examined in most species, while Ka/Ks ratios revealed strong purifying selection. Using a full maximum-likelihood coalescent-based method, the ratio of the recombination rate to the mutation rate (c/u), averaged 0.5255 for species of the Daphnia genus. Lastly, a divergence population-genetics approach was used to investigate gene flow and divergence between D. pulex and D. pulicaria.
ASJC Scopus subject areas