Population genetics of Narella versluysi (Octocorallia: Alcyonacea, Primnoidae) in the Bay of Biscay (NE Atlantic)
Octocoral species are globally distributed in all oceans and may form dense communities known as vulnerable marine ecosystems. Despite their importance as deep-water habitats, the underlying genetic structure and gene-flow patterns of most deep-water populations remain largely unknown. Here, we evaluated genetic connectivity of the primnoid octocoral Narella versluysi across the continental shelf of Bay of Biscay, spanning 360 km (95 samples from submarine canyons, ranging from 709–1247 m depths). We report 12 novel microsatellite markers which were used to genotype 83 samples from 6 populations. Sixteen samples were sequenced for three mitochondrial DNA regions (Folmer region of COI with an adjacent intergenic region igr1, MT-ND2 gene, and mtMutS homolog 1 region). All sequence haplotypes and genetic clusters were found in multiple sites spanning more than 200 km. Overall, our analyses suggest that there is high gene flow between colonies of N. versluysi among all study sites. There is no significant geographic structure and no pattern of isolation by distance or depth. Connectivity is facilitated by the prevailing current which runs along the shelf break, and could be a mechanism to connect all of the sampled locations. The high connectivity over large geographic distance is a positive sign for a potentially vulnerable organism and may provide some resilience to disturbance. This information is crucial for a better understanding of how this fragile benthic fauna may respond to climatic and anthropogenic disturbances, which is a cornerstone for effective habitat management.
Thanks go to the crew of “NO Porquois Pas?”, ROV pilots, and researchers on the BobEco cruise. This work was supported by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement number 213144, the “CoralFISH” Project. Thanks also to Dada Gottelli, Rob Yarlett, and Meesha Patel for assistance in the lab. ABH was partly supported by (1) an FRCT grant of the Government of the Azores (ref. M3.1.2/F/016/2008), (2) the Oceanic Observatory of Madeira project (M1420-01-0145-FEDER-000001-Observatório Oceânico da Madeira-OOM) co-financed by the Madeira Regional Operational Programme (Madeira 14-20) under the Portugal 2020 strategy through the European Regional Development Fund, and (3) the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal), through the strategic project UID/MAR/04292/2013 granted to MARE.
This study was funded by European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement number 213144, the “CoralFISH” Project.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the sampling, care, and use of organisms were followed. Approval for this work was obtained from the institutions of all participants.
- Arnaud-Haond S, Van den Beld IM, Becheler R, Orejas C, Menot L, Frank N, Grehan A, Bourillet JF (2017) Two “pillars” of cold-water coral reefs along Atlantic European margins: prevalent association of Madrepora oculata with Lophelia pertusa, from reef to colony scale. Deep Sea Res II Top Stud Oceanogr 145:110–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Benayahu Y, Loya Y (1985) Settlement and recruitment of a soft coral: why is Xenia macrospiculata a successful colonizer? Bull Mar Sci 36(1):177–188Google Scholar
- Braga-Henriques A (2014) Cold-water coral communities in the Azores: diversity, habitat and conservation. Ph.D. Thesis. University of the Azores, Portugal. http://hdl.handle.net/10400.3/3615
- Braga-Henriques A, Pereira JN, Tempera F, Porteiro FM, Pham C, Morato T, Santos RS (2011) Cold-water coral communities on Condor Seamount: initial interpretations. In: Giacomello E, Menezes G (eds) CONDOR observatory for long-term study and monitoring of azorean seamount ecosystems. Final Project Report, Arquivos do DOP, Série Estudos 1/2012, Horta, Portugal, pp 105–114Google Scholar
- Brito TAS, Tyler PA, Clarke A (1997) Reproductive biology of the Antarctic octocoral Thouarella variabilis Wright & Studer, 1889. In: den Hartog JC (ed) Coelenterate biology: proceedings of the 6th international congress of coelenterate biology. Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Leiden, pp 63–69Google Scholar
- Cairns SD (2007) Deep-water corals: an overview with special reference to diversity and distribution of deep-water Scleractinian corals. Bull Mar Sci 81:311–322Google Scholar
- Cairns SD (2012) The Marine Fauna of New Zealand: New Zealand Primnoidae (Anthozoa: Alcyonacea). Part 1. Genera Narella, Narelloides, Metanarella, Calyptrophora, and Helicoprimnoa. NIWA Biodiversity Memoir. NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd), Wellington, pp 1–126Google Scholar
- Cairns SD, Bayer FM (2003) Studies on western Atlantic Octocorallia (Coelenterata: Anthozoa). Part 3: The genus Narella Gray, 1870. Proc Biol Soc Wash 116(3):617–648Google Scholar
- Daly M, Brugler MR, Cartwright P, Collins AG, Dawson MN, Fautin DG, France SC, McFadden CS, Opresko DM, Rodriguez E, Romano SL (2007) The phylum Cnidaria: a review of phylogenetic patterns and diversity 300 years after Linnaeus. Zootaxa 1668:127–182Google Scholar
- Goudet J (2001) FSTAT, a program to estimate and test gene diversities and fixation indices (version 2.9.3). http://www2.unil.ch/popgen/softwares/fstat.htm. Accessed 12 Jan 2016
- Goudet J, Jombart T (2015) hierfstat: Estimation and tests of hierarchical F-statistics. R package version 0.04-22. http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=hierfstat. Accessed 12 Jan 2016
- Grasshoff M (1982) Die Gorgonaria, Pennatularia, und Antipatharia des Tiefwassers der Biskaya (Cnidaria, Anthozoa). II: Taxonomischer Teil. Bull Mus Natl Hist Nat Paris 4e Sér 3 (Sect A) 4:941–978Google Scholar
- Koutsikopoulos C, Le Cann B (1996) Physical processes and hydrological structures related to the Bay of Biscay Anchovy. Sci Mar 60:9–19Google Scholar
- Le Goff-Vitry MC, Rogers AD (2005) Molecular ecology of Lophelia pertusa in the NE Atlantic. In: Freiwald A, Roberts JM (eds) Cold-water corals and ecosystems. Erlangen Earth conference series. Springer, Berlin, pp 771–805Google Scholar
- Mokhtar-Jamaï K, Coma R, Wang J, Zuberer F, Feral J-P, Aurelle D (2013) Role of evolutionary and ecological factors in the reproductive success and the spatial genetic structure of the temperate gorgonian Paramuricea clavata. Ecol Evol 3(1765):1779Google Scholar
- Rex MA, Etter RJ (2010) Deep-sea biodiversity: pattern and scale. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Ryman N, Palm S (2006) POWSIM: a computer program for assessing statistical power when testing for genetic differentiation. Mol Ecol Res 6:600–602Google Scholar
- Waller RG, Tyler PA, Gage JD (2002) Reproductive ecology of the deep-sea solitary coral Fungiacyathus marenzelleri (Scleractinia) in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Coral Reefs 21(4):325–331Google Scholar
- Wheeler AJ, Bett BJ, Billett DSM, Masson DG, Mayor D (2005) The impact of demersal trawling on northeast Atlantic deepwater coral habitats: the case of the Darwin Mounds, United Kingdom. In: Thomas J, Barnes P (eds) Benthic habitats and the effects of fishing, vol 41. American Fisheries Society symposium, Bethesda MD, USA, pp 807–817Google Scholar
- White HK, Hsing P-Y, Cho W, Shank TM, Cordes EE, Quattrini AM, Nelson RK, Camilli R, Demopoulos AWJ, German CR, Brooks JM, Roberts HH, Shedd W, Reddy CM, Fisher CR (2012) Impact of the deep-water horizon oil spill on a deep-water coral community in the Gulf of Mexico. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(50):20303–20308CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar