Local differentiation in heat response of Laminaria digitata at the range edges

daniel.liesner [ at ] awi.de


In recent years, kelp populations worldwide have faced decline and extirpation at their equatorward limits, while models predict a poleward shift of kelp ecosystems during climate change. To gain an understanding of local thermal adaptation and response plasticity in a forest-forming kelp species, we assessed populations of Laminaria digitata along its entire European distribution range for their capacity to withstand high temperature stress, and analysed population structure and diversity with microsatellite markers (n=12). We sampled wild meristematic L. digitata material (n=30) at six locations ranging from Kongsfjorden, Spitsbergen, to the southernmost distribution limit in Quiberon, France. In a heatwave experiment, we subjected samples from all locations to the same, sublethal temperature treatments (15–23°C for eight days including acclimation) and assessed growth, storage compounds, photosynthetic efficiency and pigment contents as response traits. Recovery was assessed following seven days at 15°C. Microsatellite genotyping revealed all sampled populations to be genetically distinct entities, underlying strong regional structuring between southern and northern clades. Genetic diversity was highest at the southern distribution limit in Quiberon and lowest in the geographically isolated population on the island of Helgoland in the North Sea. The physiological response of L. digitata to temperature was similar over the entire distribution range and did not reflect the mean temperature gradient along the latitudinal gradient. However, material from Spitsbergen and Helgoland presented subtle differentiations in their temperature responses, which reflect long-term local temperature histories at these sites. Finally, a heatwave reaching 23°C for five days led to a cessation of growth, from which none of the sampled populations recovered. Our results suggest that the heat stress response of L. digitata is generally stable across its distribution range, despite strong genetic structuring of the populations. Slight local differentiation occurred in populations from the most distinct thermal environments, but 23°C posed a growth limit for all populations. This implies that local adaptation in trailing edge populations of L. digitata might not alleviate detrimental effects of global warming.

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68th British Phycological Society Meeting, 06 Jan 2020 - 09 Jan 2020, Plymouth, UK.
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Liesner, D. , Fouqueau, L. , Valero, M. , Roleda, M. , Pearson, G. A. , Bischof, K. , Valentin, K. U. and Bartsch, I. (2020): Local differentiation in heat response of Laminaria digitata at the range edges , 68th British Phycological Society Meeting, Plymouth, UK, 6 January 2020 - 9 January 2020 .

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