Genetic structure of the crown-of-thorns seastar in the Pacific Ocean, with focus on Guam

Tusso, Sergio, Morcinek, Kerstin, Vogler, Catherine, Schupp, Peter J., Caballes, Ciemon F., Vargas, Sergio, and Wörheide, Gert (2016) Genetic structure of the crown-of-thorns seastar in the Pacific Ocean, with focus on Guam. PeerJ, 4. e1970. pp. 1-22.

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Abstract

Population outbreaks of the corallivorous crown-of-thorns seastar (COTS), Acanthaster 'planci' L., are among the most important biological disturbances of tropical coral reefs. Over the past 50 years, several devastating outbreaks have been documented around Guam, an island in the western Pacific Ocean. Previous analyses have shown that in the Pacific Ocean, COTS larval dispersal may be geographically restricted to certain regions. Here, we assess the genetic structure of Pacific COTS populations and compared samples from around Guam with a number of distant localities in the Pacific Ocean, and focused on determining the degree of genetic structure among populations previously considered to be isolated. Using microsatellites, we document substantial genetic structure between 14 localities from different geographical regions in the Pacific Ocean. Populations from the 14 locations sampled were found to be structured in three significantly differentiated groups: (1) all locations immediately around Guam, as well as Kingman Reef and Swains Island; (2) Japan, Philippines, GBR and Vanuatu; and (3) Johnston Atoll, which was significantly different from all other localities. The lack of genetic differentiation between Guam and extremely distant populations from Kingman Reef and Swains Island suggests potential long-distance dispersal of COTS in the Pacific.

Item ID: 49195
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2167-8359
Keywords: Acanthaster 'planci', microsatellites, Pacific, genetic structure, crown-of-thorns seastar, COTS
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© Copyright 2016 Tusso et al. Distributed under Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0

Funders: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, United States Department of Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Projects and Grants: NOAA grant no. CRIGU10
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2017 01:00
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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