Invertebrate species with nonpelagic larvae have elevated levels of nonsynonymous substitutions and reduced nucleotide diversities

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Under a nearly neutral model in which most amino acid substitutions are slightly deleterious, variation in demography, population structure, and other ecological factors among closely related species can potentially modify the effective population size or the selective regime, leading to differences in the rate of nonsynonymous substitution. Ratios of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions (d(N)/d(S)) between species were analyzed in a sea star genus (Patiriella) and a molluscan genus (Littorina), each with diverse modes of reproduction, including multiple lineages with pelagic and nonpelagic larvae. In both genera, lineages with nonpelagic larvae had significantly higher d(N)/d(S) ratios than lineages with pelagic larvae. The hypothesis that the elevated d(N)/d(S) ratios in species with nonpelagic larvae was due to reduced effective population size was tested by comparing nucleotide diversities in three genera of gastropod mollusks (Littorina, Crepidula, and Hydrobia), each with several modes of reproduction. Overall, there was a significant (p < 0.05) reduction in nucleotide diversity in species with nonpelagic larvae compared to species with pelagic larvae.

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Journal of molecular evolution

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