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Dynamique éco-évolutive de deux ascidies congénériques et interfertiles, l'une indigène et l'autre introduite, dans leur zone de sympatrie

Abstract : Human activities severely alter species ranges that have been built on evolutionary time scales, and biological introductions promote secondary contacts between non-reproductively isolated species that were in allopatry. Such a situation is a very interesting case-study to examine eco-evolutionary processes, for instance coexistence between species sharing the same ecological niche or inter-specific gene flow (i.e. hybridization and introgression) between native and non-native species. This PhD thesis studied ecological and genomic interactions between two biologically similar, interfertile and congeneric tunicates, namely Ciona robusta and Ciona intestinalis. They are both abundant in harbours and marinas. They are sympatric in the Western English Channel because of the recent introduction of C. robusta (putatively native to Asia) in the natural range of C. intestinalis. Based on spatial and temporal (seasons and years) adult abundance data and examination of recruitment patterns of the two species, we showed that the two species are sustainably coexisting at a regional scale in Brittany, within similar communities. They live in syntopy in most of the study marinas. However, there are significant changes in their relative abundance through time: C. robusta is mostly present at the end of the summer and in the autumn, although always being less abundant than its native congener. Syntopy, interfertility between the two species and synchronous sexual maturity all indicated a high likelihood of hybridization between the two species. The realized hybridization is however very low, as shown by 4 species-diagnostic molecular markers genotyped over more than 3000 individuals: only 4% of the individuals displayed a genotype compatible with hybridization or introgression. This result has been confirmed with a population genomics study (310 SNPs; 450 individuals collected worldwide): inter-specific gene flow is very low. In addition, the few loci showing shared polymorphism displayed variable introgression rates and introgression was observed even in allopatric localities (where only one of the two species exists nowadays). Overall, the genetic and genomic results indicate that interspecific gene flow is most likely due to past introgression events (that may have occurred during the Pleistocene). Finally, a study carried out at a worldwide scale with two mitochondrial loci, showed that the introduction processes of C. robusta are different among the introduced regions. This study also questions the non-native status of the two Ciona species in some regions. This work showed the near absence of contemporary hybridization between C. robusta and C. intestinalis, even in syntopy, opening new research perspectives about the mechanisms preventing their reproduction in the wild. It also questions the fate of these two competing species; this competition may depend on the interaction between their specific environmental preferences and on on-going climatic changes in the North Atlantic. Altogether, this work illustrates the interplay between contemporary and past processes on species distribution and evolution, population genetic structure and genomic architecture.
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Sarah Bouchemousse. Dynamique éco-évolutive de deux ascidies congénériques et interfertiles, l'une indigène et l'autre introduite, dans leur zone de sympatrie. Biodiversité. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015PA066604⟩. ⟨tel-01337034⟩

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