1Institute of Evolution and Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa, 3498838, Israel
2Department of Plant Pathology and Weed Research, ARO, Volcani Center, Rishon LeZion POB 15159, Israel 7528809
3Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, Faculty Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
4Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology , Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research,
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus, 84990 Midreshet Ben-Gurion, Israel
5Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford 94305, CA, USA
Salamandra infraimmaculata is
considered a threatened species in Israel. However, since studying Salamandra, we have found in the past 10 years, many more breeding sites than were known previously. In addition, O. Rybak has found that Salamandra does well in urban habitats on Mount Carmel. Salamandra infraimmaculata has strong pond site fidelity that likely results in differential genetic structure among breeding sites. Strong pond site fidelity has been found by multiple researchers. An exception is that on Mount Carmel, we found dispersal as far as 1280 meters, which is likely to result in overlapping genetic structuring. During our first genetics study, in which 9 breeding sites in Mount Carmel and 11 sites in the Galilee were surveyed, and tissue samples were taken from 475 adults. Microsatellites were used for observing differences in genetic structure in a study that was performed in Prof. Juha Merilä's lab. In this study, we found that there were substantial genetic differences between Mount Carmel and the Galilee. Allelic richness was a lot higher in the Galilee than in Mount Carmel; 40 unique alleles were found in the Galilee and 0 in Mount Carmel. Unrooted neighbor joining tree diagrams resulted in pure separations between Mount Carmel and the Galilee. Structure analysis showed strong differences between the Galilee and Mount Carmel.
A second microsatellite study was conducted and was conducted in Finland. The goal was to consider genetic diversity in peripheral populations compared to populations closer to the core. We collected 692 tissue samples from adult and juvenile fire salamanders from 33 breeding sites (13 from Upper Galilee, 10 from Lower Galilee, 9 from Mount Carmel and 1 from Tel Dan). This study also considered vegetation types, and meteorological aspects such as elevation, average temperature and precipitation. Maximum entropy analysis was also used to score major regions. The Lower Galilee had the lowest stability values of the three regions. Allelic richness increased with maximum entropy scores in the Upper Galilee. Allelic richness also increased with latitude. A BAPS analysis also demonstrated that Mt Carmel and the Upper Galilee were homogeneous genetically while the Lower Galilee contained genetically differentiated populations.
Lastly, we did transcriptomics/gene expression on
fire salamander larvae. We insisted that Salamandra tailfins (which do
not cause damage to the Salamandra larvae) can demonstrate gene
expression as opposed to using the whole body. We found that Salamandra
larvae turns darker when exposed to ultra violet radiation, and they turn
darker with increased density. We are currently conducting gene expression
studies on Salamandra larval development, oxygen ranges, color change,
and temperature change.