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Genetic structure of fissiparous populations of Holothuria (Halodeima) atra on the Great Barrier Reef

Genetic structure of fissiparous populations of Holothuria (Halodeima) atra on the Great Barrier Reef

Marine Biology (Berlin) 132(1): 141-151

ISSN/ISBN: 0025-3162

DOI: 10.1007/s002270050380

Allozyme variation at five polymorphic loci was surveyed in a total of 311 individuals of the sea cucumber Holothuria (Halodeima) atra (Jager, 1833) collected from two nearshore and two midshelf populations in the Great Barrier Reef in November 1996. Strong deviations in genotype frequencies from those expected under Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, particularly a large number of heterozygote excesses, confirmed the occurrence of asexual reproduction. Females and males differed significantly in genotype frequencies as a result of differences in either the amount of fission in each sex or in the mortality of asexually produced recruits. The estimated maximum sexual input (number of sexually produced individuals: sample size = N*:Ni) to the two nearshore reefs (38 to 67%) was low relative to that to the two midshelf reefs (74 to 87%). The three ratios and Go:Ge, Ngo:Ni, N*:Ni, (where Go = observed genotypic diversity, Ge = expected genotypic diversity, Ngo = number of genotypes) considered to be indicators of the extent of asexual reproduction, showed a consistent trend in the degree of asexual reproduction similar to that derived from the number of regenerating individuals observed in the populations for which data were available. F-statistic analyses of clonal gene frequencies demonstrated that all populations received sexual recruits from the same gene pool. There was evidence of restricted sexual recruitment to the Fantome population, suggesting that asexual reproduction was dominant only in areas where sexual recruitment was limited by other factors.

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