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Genetic signature of accidental transfer of the peregrine earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus (Clitellata, Glossoscolecidae) in French Guiana

Dupont, L., Decaëns, T., Lapied, E., Chassany, V., Marichal, R., Dubs, F., Maillot, M., Roy, V.
European journal of soil biology 2012 v.53 pp. 70-75
Pontoscolex corethrurus, amplified fragment length polymorphism, clonal variation, earthworms, ecosystems, forests, genetic markers, humans, loci, parthenogenesis, population genetics, soil, French Guiana
Despite the increasing interest in biological invasions by earthworms which cause important changes in soils, biota and ecosystem processes after introduction, little is known about their history of colonisation. Population genetics tools may provide interesting insights into evolutionary processes occurring during an invasion phase; however a prerequisite is the knowledge of genetic variability within the native range of the species. The aim of this study was to estimate the genetic variation of a tropical peregrine earthworm, Pontoscolex corethrurus, in French Guiana, a region included within its native range. The clonal variability of this parthenogenetic species was assessed using 106 AFLP loci analysed in 113 individuals from five populations from the Nouragues reserve, in the Amazonian primary forest, and one population from the city of Cayenne. We found a higher level of genetic diversity in populations originating from the most disturbed sites, thus suggesting that dispersal events, probably linked to human activities, supplied these populations with migrants. Moreover, patterns of genetic differentiation between populations suggested accidental transfer of P. corethrurus between Cayenne and the Nouragues reserve as well as between populations of the reserve. Altogether, our results highlighted that AFLPs are adequate molecular markers to trace back the history of colonisation by this species.