Genetic differentiation among populations of a broadcast spawning soft coral, Sinularia flexibilis, on the Great Barrier Reef

Bastidas, C., Benzie, J.A.H., Uthicke, S., and Fabricius, K. (2001) Genetic differentiation among populations of a broadcast spawning soft coral, Sinularia flexibilis, on the Great Barrier Reef. Marine Biology, 138 (3). pp. 517-525.

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Abstract

The genetic structure of 12 reef populations of the soft coral Sinularia flexibilis (Octocorallia, Alcyoniidae) was studied along the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) at a maximum separation of 1,300 km to investigate the relative importance of sexual and asexual reproduction, genetic differentiation and gene flow among these populations. S. flexibilis is a widely distributed Indo-Pacific species and a gamete broadcaster that can form large aggregations of colonies on near-shore reefs of the GBR. Up to 60 individuals per reef were collected at a minimum sampling scale of 5 m at two sites per reef, from December 1998 to February 2000. Electrophoretic analyses of nine polymorphic allozymes indicated that genotypic frequencies in most populations and loci did not differ significantly from those expected from Hardy-Weinberg predictions. Analysis of multi-locus genotypes indicated a high number of unique genotypes (Ngo) relative to the number of individuals sampled (N) in each reef population (range of 0.69-0.95). The maximum number of individuals likely to have been produced sexually (N*) was similar to the number of individuals sampled (i.e. N*:N ∼ I), suggesting that even repeated genotypes may have been produced sexually. These results demonstrated a dominant role of sexual reproduction in these populations at the scale sampled. Significant genetic differentiation between some populations indicated that gene flow is restricted between some reefs (FST = 0.026, 95% CI = 0.011 - 0.045) and even between sites within reefs (FST = 0.041, 95% CI = 0.027 - 0.055). Nevertheless, there was no relationship between geographic separation and genetic differentiation. Analyses comparing groups of populations showed no significant differentiation on a north-south gradient in the GBR. The pattern in the number of significant differences in gene frequencies in pairwise population comparisons, however, suggested that gene flow may be more restricted among inner-shelf reef populations near to the coast than among mid/ outer-shelf populations further from the coast.

Item ID: 13317
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
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ISSN: 1432-1793
Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2010 05:50
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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