EGU21-14762, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Local adaptation of a Lessepsian invader species to winter conditions in the Mediterranean Sea

Débora Silva Raposo1, Raphaël Morard1, Christiane Schmidt2, and Michal Kucera1
Débora Silva Raposo et al.
  • 1MARUM, Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany (
  • 2ZMT, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Bremen, Germany

In recent decades the “Lessepsian” migration caused a rapid change in the marine community composition due to the invasion of alien species from the Red Sea into the Mediterranean Sea. Among these invaders is the large benthic foraminifera Amphistegina lobifera, a diatom-bearing species that recently reached the invasion front in Sicily. There it copes with colder winters and broader temperature than in its original source, the Red Sea. It is not yet known how (or if) the population from the invasion front has developed adaptation to this new thermal regime. Understanding the modern marine invasive patterns is a crucial tool to predict future invasive successes in marine environments. Therefore, in this study we aim to evaluate the physiological responses to cold temperatures of A. lobifera populations at three different invasive stages: source (Red Sea), early invader (Eastern Mediterranean) and invasion front (Sicily). For this, we conducted a culturing experiment in which we monitored the responses of the foraminifera (growth, motility) to temperatures of 10, 13, 16, 19°C + control (25°C) over four weeks. To address what is the role of their endosymbionts in the adaptation process, we also monitored their photosynthetic activity (Pulse Amplitude Modulation - PAM fluorometer) during the experiment. The growth rate of the foraminifera was reduced for all populations below 19°C as well as the motility, reduced until 16°C and dropping to zero below 13°C. The response of the endosymbionts was however different. There was a reduced photosynthetic activity of the Red Sea and Eastern Mediterranean populations at colder temperatures observed by the lower maximum quantum yield (Fv:Fm) and effective quantum yield (Y(II)), when compared to their initial levels and to the other treatments. In the meantime, the endosymbionts of the Sicily population stood out with the highest photosynthetic activity (Fv:Fm and Y(II)) in the treatments bellow 13 °C (P < 0.05). In conclusion, we observed that while the host responses were similar between the three populations, the endosymbionts from the invasion front population shows the best performance at colder temperatures. This suggests that the photo-symbiosis has an important role in adaptation, most likely being a key factor to the success of past and future migrations.

How to cite: Silva Raposo, D., Morard, R., Schmidt, C., and Kucera, M.: Local adaptation of a Lessepsian invader species to winter conditions in the Mediterranean Sea, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14762,, 2021.

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