, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 355-361

The First Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS-1) of Ribosomal DNA as a Molecular Marker for Phylogenetic and Population Analyses in Crustacea

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The objective of the present study is to explore the feasibility of using the first internal transcribed spacer (ITS-1) of ribosomal DNA as a molecular marker for studying the interspecific and intraspecific genetic variations among crustaceans. We designed primers that could amplify ITS-1 from a majority of taxonomic groups of crustaceans. The gene was found to exhibit a high degree of length polymorphism among different groups, ranging from 182 bp in the barnacle Balanus amphitrite to approximately 820 bp in the spiny lobster Panulirus japonicus. With respect to differences between congeneric species, it was found that the ITS-1 sequences of 3 mitten crabs, Eriocheir sinensis, Eriocheir leptognathus, and Eriocheir formosa, exhibit 5.4% to 16.3% nucleotide divergence, suggesting that ITS-1 is informative for phylogenetic analysis at the species level. Yet there are extensive (0.9%–2.3%) variations within individual E. formosa, so that phylogenetic analyses could be obscured. ITS-1 was found to vary between 2 geographical populations of the shrimp Penaeus japonicus. The variations involved substitutions as well as insertions/deletions between shrimp from Australia and South China Sea. These results show that ITS-1 is highly divergent among different crustaceans and could be an appropriate marker for molecular systematic studies at the species and population levels, although the presence of intragenomic variation needs to be taken into consideration.

Received August 15, 2000; accepted February 9, 2001