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Microarthropod contributions to fitness variation in the common moss Ceratodon purpureus


Shortlidge, Erin et al. (2021), Microarthropod contributions to fitness variation in the common moss Ceratodon purpureus, Dryad, Dataset,


The evolution of sustained plant-animal interactions depends critically upon genetic variation in the fitness benefits from the interaction. Genetic analyses of such interactions are limited to a few model systems, in part because genetic variation may be absent or the interacting species may be experimentally intractable. Here we examine the role of sperm-dispersing microarthropods in shaping reproduction and genetic variation in mosses. We established experimental mesocosms with known moss genotypes and inferred the parents of progeny from mesocosms with and without microarthropods, using a pooled sequencing approach. Moss reproductive rates increased five-fold in the presence of microarthropods, relative to control mesocosms. Further, the presence of microarthropods increased the total number of reproducing moss genotypes, and changed the rank-order of fitness of male and female moss genotypes. The genotypes that reproduced most often did not produce sporophytes that produced the most spores, highlighting the challenge of defining fitness in mosses.  Nevertheless, these results demonstrate that microarthropods provide a fitness benefit for mosses, and highlight the potential for biotic dispersal agents to alter fitness among moss genotypes in this plant-animal interaction.


The data were collected via common practices and genetic analysis.


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB 1210957

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS 128225

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB 150041