Antarctic bdelloid rotifers: diversity, endemism and evolution
Antarctica is an isolated continent whose conditions challenge the survival of living organisms. High levels of endemism are now known in many Antarctic organisms, including algae, tardigrades, nematodes and microarthropods. Bdelloid rotifers are a key, widespread and abundant group of Antarctic microscopic invertebrates. However, their diversity, regional distribution and endemism have received little attention until recently. We provide the first authoritative review on Antarctic Bdelloidea, based on published data and new collections. Our analysis reveals the extreme levels of bdelloid endemism in Antarctica. Sixty-six bdelloid morphospecies are now confirmed from the continent, and 83–91 putative species are identified using molecular approaches (depending on the delimitation method used). Twelve previously unknown species are described based on both morphology and molecular analyses. Molecular analyses indicate that only two putative species found in Antarctica proved to be truly cosmopolitan. The level of endemism based on the available data set (95%) is higher than that in any other continent, with many bdelloid species occurring only in maritime or continental Antarctica. These findings are consistent with the long-term presence of Bdelloidea in Antarctica, with their considerable isolation facilitating intraregional radiation, providing further evidence that does not support the microbial global ubiquity hypothesis that “everything is everywhere."
Authors: Iakovenko, N.S., Smykla, J., Convey, P., Kasparova, E., Kozeretska, I.A., Trokhymets, V., Dykyy, I., Plewka, M., Devetter, M., Duris, Z., Janko, K.