Hidden Historical Habitat-Linked Population Divergence and Contemporary Gene Flow of a Deep-Sea Patellogastropod Limpet

Ting XU, Yan Wang, Jin Sun , Chong Chen, Hiromi Kayama Watanabe, Junlin Chen, Pei Yuan Qian*, Jianwen QIU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrothermal vents and hydrocarbon seeps in the deep ocean are rare oases fueled by chemosynthesis. Biological communities inhabiting these ecosystems are often distributed in widely separated habitats, raising intriguing questions on how these organisms achieve connectivity and whether habitat types facilitate intraspecific divergence. The deep-sea patellogastropod limpet Bathyacmaea nipponica that colonizes both vents and seeps across ∼2,400 km in the Northwest Pacific is a feasible model to answer these questions. We analyzed 123 individuals from four vents and three seeps using a comprehensive method incorporating population genomics and physical ocean modeling. Genome survey sequencing and genotyping-by-sequencing resulted in 9,838 single-nucleotide polymorphisms for population genomic analyses. Genetic divergence and demographic analyses revealed four habitat-linked (i.e., three seep and one vent) genetic groups, with the vent genetic group established via the opportunistic invasion of a few limpet larvae from a nearby seep genetic group. TreeMix analysis uncovered three historical seep-to-vent migration events. ADMIXTURE and divMigrate analyses elucidated weak contemporary gene flow from a seep genetic group to the vent genetic group. Physical ocean modeling underlined the potential roles of seafloor topography and ocean currents in shaping the genetic connectivity, contemporary migration, and local hybridization of these deep-sea limpets. Our study highlighted the power of integrating genomic and oceanographic approaches in deciphering the demography and diversification of deep-sea organisms. Given the increasing anthropogenic activities (e.g., mining and gas hydrate extraction) affecting the deep ocean, our results have implications for the conservation of deep-sea biodiversity and establishment of marine protected areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5640–5654
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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