Marine Biology

, Volume 122, Issue 2, pp 193–203 | Cite as

Inter-ocean genetic divergence of istiophorid billfishes

  • J. E. Graves
  • J. R. McDowell


Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was used to investigate the taxonomic status of the following species-pairs of Atlantic and Indo-Pacific istiophorid billfishes: Atlantic blue marlin Makaira nigricans (Lacépède) and Indo-Pacific blue marlin M. mazara (Jordan and Snyder); Atlantic sailfish Istiophorus albicans (Latreille) and Indo-Pacific sailfish I. platypterus (Shaw and Nodder); and white marlin Tetrapturus albidus Poey and striped marlin T. audax (Phillippi). Tissue samples were collected from 1990 to 1992. Several mtDNA haplotypes were common to Atlantic and Indo-Pacific samples of blue marlin and sailfish, although there were significant differences in the distribution of haplotypes between samples from different oceans. For both blue marlin and sailfish, a single group of closely related mtDNA haplotypes was found among all indo-Pacific and some Atlantic individuals, while the remaining Atlantic specimens exhibited mtDNA haplotypes that differed by several consistent restriction site changes from the common haplotype. No restriction site differences were found to discriminate white marlin from striped marlin, and the mtDNA haplotypes of both species were very similar although significant differences were found in the distribution of haplotypes between the two species. Two of 26 haplotypes were shared between white and striped marlin, and the corrected mean nucleotide sequence divergence between species (0.06%) was not much greater than that observed between geographically distant samples of striped marlin from the Pacific Ocean (mean 0.03%). The presence of identical haplotypes in samples from both oceans for each of the three species-pairs of istiophorid billfishes suggests that specific status may not be warranted for any of the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific populations. The significant difference in the distributions of mtDNA haplotypes between Atlantic and Indo-Pacific populations, which contrasts sharply with the homogeneity reported for several species of tunas, indicates considerable population structuring within the highly vagile billfishes.


Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Distant Sample Site Difference Site Change Nucleotide Sequence Divergence 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. E. Graves
    • 2
  • J. R. McDowell
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Marine Science, Virginia Institute of Marine ScienceCollege of William and MaryGloucester PointUSA
  2. 2.Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commissionc/o Scripps Institution of OceanographyLa JollaUSA

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