Complete lack of mitochondrial divergence between two species of NE Atlantic marine intertidal gastropods

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Some mitochondrial introgression is common between closely related species, but distinct species rarely show substantial introgression in their entire distribution range. In this study, however, we report a complete lack of mitochondrial divergence between two sympatric species of flat periwinkles (Littorina fabalis and Littorina obtusata) which, based on previous allozyme studies, diverged approximately 1 Ma. We re-examined their species status using both morphology (morphometric analysis) and neutral genetic markers (microsatellites) and our results confirmed that these species are well separated. Despite this, the two species shared all common cytochrome-b haplotypes throughout their NE Atlantic distribution and no deep split between typical L. fabalis and L. obtusata haplotypes could be found. We suggest that incomplete lineage sorting explains most of the lack of mitochondrial divergence between these species. However, coalescent-based analyses and the sympatric sharing of unique haplotypes suggest that introgressive hybridization also has occurred.

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