Phosphorus availability in the source population influences response to dietary phosphorus quantity in a New Zealand freshwater snail.

PMID 29058123


We investigated whether previously documented variation among populations in availability of dietary phosphorus (P) is linked to heterogeneity in growth rate of the New Zealand freshwater snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum on a P-limited diet. We chose this system because P. antipodarum inhabits water bodies that vary in P availability and because P. antipodarum growth rate varies considerably in response to low P. We quantified specific growth rate and alkaline phosphatase (AP) expression in a diverse array of juvenile P. antipodarum fed high vs. low-P diets. We found strong associations between P content of epilithon in the source lake and P. antipodarum growth rate on high vs. low-P diets, with snails collected from lakes with relatively low-P epilithon showing the greatest increase in growth rate on the high-P relative to low-P diet. We also found substantial intraspecific variation in growth response to P limitation. Expression of AP also varied among lineages and was negatively associated with C: P of lake epilithon but did not explain the relationship between C: P in the lake of origin and sensitivity to P limitation. Together, our results demonstrate a strong signature of the P environment in the lake of origin on how this snail responds to P limitation as well as preliminary evidence for intraspecific variation of AP expression in animals.

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