Mitochondrial sequences of Seriatopora corals show little agreement with morphology and reveal the duplication of a tRNA gene near the control region
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The taxonomy of corals of the genus Seriatopora has not previously been studied using molecular sequence markers. As a first step toward a re-evaluation of species boundaries in this genus, mitochondrial sequence variability was analyzed in 51 samples collected from Okinawa, New Caledonia, and the Philippines. Four clusters of sequences were detected that showed little concordance with species currently recognized on a morphological basis. The most likely explanation is that the skeletal characters used for species identification are highly variable (polymorphic or phenotypically plastic); alternative explanations include introgression/hybridization, or deep coalescence and the retention of ancestral mitochondrial polymorphisms. In all individuals sequenced, two copies of trnW were found on either side of the atp8 gene near the putative D-loop, a novel mitochondrial gene arrangement that may have arisen from a duplication of the trnW-atp8 region followed by a deletion of one atp8.
KeywordsCnidaria Scleractinia Taxonomy Systematics Mitochondrial genome
J.-F. Flot received a PhD scholarship and teaching assistantship from the French Ministry of Research and Education, and support from the MNHN program Structure et évolution des écosystèmes. We thank Eric Folcher, Catherine Geoffray, Jean-Louis Menou, and Mark Vergara for their help in the field; thanks also to Céline Bonillo, Josie Lambourdière, Julien Lorion, Annie Tillier, and two anonymous reviewers. This project was part of agreement n°2005/67 between Genoscope and MNHN on the project ‘Macrophylogeny of life’ directed by Guillaume Lecointre; support from the Consortium National de Recherche en Génomique is gratefully acknowledged.
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