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Pseudo-cryptic speciation in coccolithophores

AuthorsSáez, Alberto G. ; Probert, Ian; Geisen, Markus; Quinn, Patrick; Young, Jeremy R.; Medlin, L. K.
Issue Date20-May-2003
PublisherNational Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
CitationProc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (PNAS) 100(12): 7163-7168 (2003)
AbstractCoccolithophores are a group of calcifying unicellular algae that constitute a major fraction of oceanic primary productivity, play an important role in the global carbon cycle, and are key biostratigraphic marker fossils. Their taxonomy is primarily based on the morphology of the minute calcite plates, or coccoliths, covering the cell. These are diverse and include widespread fine scale variation, of which the biological/taxonomic significance is unknown. Do they represent phenotypic plasticity, genetic polymorphisms, or species-specific characters? Our research on five commonly occurring coccolithophores supports the hypothesis that such variation represents pseudocryptic speciation events, occurring between 0.3 and 12.9 million years ago from a molecular clock estimation. This finding suggests strong stabilizing selection acting on coccolithophorid phenotypes. Our results also provide strong support for the use of fine scale morphological characters of coccoliths in the fossil record to improve biostratigraphic resolution and paleoceanographic data retrieval.
Description6 pages, 2 figures, 2 tables.-- PMID: 12759476 [PubMed].-- Printed version published Jun 10, 2003.-- Full-text paper available Open Access at the journal site.
Data deposition: The sequences reported in this paper have been deposited in the GenBank database (accession nos. AJ544115–AJ544134).
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1132069100
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