The evolutionary history of the coral genus Acropora (Scleractinia, Cnidaria) based on a mitochondrial and a nuclear marker: reticulation, incomplete lineage sorting, or morphological convergence?

van Oppen, Madeleine J.H., McDonald, Brenda J., Willis, Bette, and Miller, David J. (2001) The evolutionary history of the coral genus Acropora (Scleractinia, Cnidaria) based on a mitochondrial and a nuclear marker: reticulation, incomplete lineage sorting, or morphological convergence? Molecular Biology and Evolution, 18 (7). pp. 1315-1329.

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Abstract

This study examines molecular relationships across a wide range of species in the mass spawning scleractinian coral genus Acropora. Molecular phylogenies were obtained for 28 species using DNA sequence analyses of two independent markers, a nuclear intron and the mtDNA putative control region. Although the compositions of the major clades in the phylogenies based on these two markers were similar, there were several important differences. This, in combination with the fact that many species were not monophyletic, suggests either that introgressive hybridization is occurring or that lineage sorting is incomplete. The molecular tree topologies bear little similarity to the results of a recent cladistic analysis based on skeletal morphology and are at odds with the fossil record. We hypothesize that these conflicting results may be due to the same morphology having evolved independently more than once in Acropora and/or the occurrence of extensive interspecific hybridization and introgression in combination with morphology being determined by a small number of genes. Our results indicate that many Acropora species belong to a species complex or syngameon and that morphology has little predictive value with regard to syngameon composition. Morphological species in the genus often do not correspond to genetically distinct evolutionary units. Instead, species that differ in timing of gamete release tend to constitute genetically distinct clades.

Item ID: 1482
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Acropora, Scleractinia, molecular phylogenetics, Pax-C, mtDNA putative control region, introgressive hybridization, incomplete lineage sorting, spawning, morphology, syngameon
ISSN: 1537-1719
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2007
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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