Marine Biology

, Volume 147, Issue 3, pp 747–754 | Cite as

Genetic and color morph differentiation in the Caribbean sea anemone Condylactis gigantea

  • Nina StoletzkiEmail author
  • Bernd Schierwater
Research Article


The distribution of phenotypic and genetic variation across environments can provide insights into local adaptation. The tropical sea anemone Condylactis gigantea inhabits a broad spectrum of coral-reef habitats and displays a variety of phenotypes, particularly with respect to color. At the coast of Discovery Bay, Jamaica, individuals with either pink or green tentacle tips show distinct distributions. Pink morphs are more abundant in the lagoon and in deeper areas, while green morphs are more abundant in the forereef and in shallower areas. We use DNA sequence data (ITS1-5.8S) to investigate if variation in color is associated with genetic differentiation in lagoon and forereef habitats about 5 km apart. Population genetic analyses reveal two distinct ITS1-5.8S variants, which differ in relative frequency. The two variants are present in both habitats, but a dearth of intermediates suggests reduced gene flow. In the lagoon, but not the forereef, ITS variants show an association with color. In order to address the potential ecological significance of color, we study UV absorbance and UV acclimatization capacities of pink and green color morphs in the lagoon. Color morphs differed significantly in UV-B absorbance. These results suggest genetic and ecological differentiation in the face of gene flow over short distances.


High Performance Liquid Chromatography Gene Flow Forereef Concerted Evolution Color Morph 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Very many thanks are due to Daven Presgraves who kindly helped to improve the manuscript, for advice and many helpful comments and discussions. We are also very grateful for discussions with Allen Collins, and for many helpful comments of A. Collins, J. Hermisson and B. Nuernberger on earlier versions of the manuscript, and of two anonymous reviewers on the final version. Thanks are due to each of the East/West students helping in the field, the staff members at Discovery Bay Marine Laboratories, Jamaica, and the East/West Marine Biology Program of Northeastern University, Boston, and all the members of the ITZ. Many thanks are also due to Ken Sebens for early discussions. U. Karsten kindly helped with the MAA analyses and allowed the use of his facilities. We acknowledge financial support from the German Science Foundation (DFG Schi-277/10-2) to B. Schierwater and scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to N. Stoletzki.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ITZ, Ecology and EvolutionTieraerztliche Hochschule HannoverHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Ludwig-Maximilian UniversitaetPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany

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