Population co-divergence in common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) and its dicyemid parasite in the Mediterranean Sea

Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 4;9(1):14300. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-50555-9.


Population structure and biogeography of marine organisms are formed by different drivers than in terrestrial organisms. Yet, very little information is available even for common marine organisms and even less for their associated parasites. Here we report the first analysis of population structure of both a cephalopod host (Sepia officinalis) and its dicyemid parasite, based on a homologous molecular marker (cytochrome oxidase I). We show that the population of common cuttlefish in the Mediterranean area is fragmented into subpopulations, with some areas featuring restricted level of gene flow. Amongst the studied areas, Sardinia was genetically the most diverse and Cyprus the most isolated. At a larger scale, across the Mediterranean, the population structure of the parasite shows co-diversification pattern with its host, but a slower rate of diversification. Differences between the two counterparts are more obvious at a finer scale, where parasite populations show increased level of fragmentation and lower local diversities. This discrepancy can be caused by local extinctions and replacements taking place more frequently in the dicyemid populations, due to their parasitic lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Parasites / classification*
  • Sepia / classification*
  • Sepia / parasitology*