, Volume 138, Issue 2, pp 229-234

DNA fingerprints of Caulerpa taxifolia provide evidence for the introduction of an aquarium strain into the Mediterranean Sea and its close relationship to an Australian population

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The occurrence of Caulerpa taxifolia in the Mediterranean Sea was reported for the first time in 1984. Since then the alga has spread rapidly and is now considered to be a potential threat to sublittoral ecosystems. Two hypotheses on the origin of the Mediterranean strain of C. taxifolia have been discussed in the literature. One hypothesis assumed migration of the alga from the Red Sea, the other introduction via a public aquarium. The hypothesis of a descent from an aquarium strain has been supported strongly by recent studies based on DNA sequences. The DNA fingerprints of C. taxifolia presented here also provide evidence for the descent of the Mediterranean C. taxifolia from an aquarium strain. Furthermore, the present study shows that a strain of C. taxifolia from Manly Harbour/Moreton Bay (Australia) is closely related to the aquarium/Mediterranean strain. The feasibility of detecting similar genotypes by restriction digests of total DNA is demonstrated, which will facilitate the ongoing search for further relatives of Mediterranean C. taxifolia.

Received: 20 June 2000 / Accepted: 27 September 2000