, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp 19-30

Genetical structure within populations of the coral Pocillopora damicornis

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Genetic variation of allozymes within populations of Pocillopora damicornis from southwestern Australia was consistent with a primary role of local asexual proliferation of clones in population maintenance. Populations were composed typically of two to four multilocus genotypes accounting for 40 to 80% of individuals, with the remainder assigned to genotypes occasionally in twos or threes but more commonly singly. In the three populations where recruitment was examined genetically, 84% of all first-year recruits was assigned to clones represented in the population's resident adults. The majority of these recruits came from the most highly-replicated of the adult clones. The observed genotypic diversity was, on average, about half that calculated to occur for the same allelic frequencies in a sexually-reproducing population with free recombination. Despite the prevalence of asexual reproduction, both through planulae and fragments, the existence of a sexual mode of reproduction was inferred from the high level of variation produced by pooling populations, the existence of novel genotypes and the concordance of clonal gene frequencies at many sites with the predictions of Hardy-Weinberg equilibria.

Communicated by G.F. Humphrey, Sydney