Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 2431–2436 | Cite as

Species identification and genetic structure of threatened seahorses in Gran Canaria Island (Spain) using mitochondrial and microsatellite markers

  • Almudena López
  • Manuel Vera
  • Francisco Otero-Ferrer
  • Belén G. Pardo
  • Paulino Martínez
  • Lucía Molina
  • Carmen Bouza
Short Communication


A non-invasive DNA analysis of seahorse populations was carried out after extensive underwater surveys in Gran Canaria Island (Spain). In this geographical area, the presence of two species, Hippocampus hippocampus and H. guttulatus, has been previously reported. Sequencing of 16S ribosomal DNA (16S rDNA) was used for specific identification of live seahorses sampled in situ, as a previous step to evaluate genetic structure based on ten microsatellite markers. Phylogenetic analyses revealed the presence of a single species, H. hippocampus, in the seahorse communities found at Gran Canaria. No evidences of H. guttulatus or interspecific hybrids were found based on 16S rDNA and microsatellite data. The nuclear markers revealed low genetic diversity and lack of population structure across populations of Gran Canaria Island, with evidence of small population sizes. This study provides critical information to support conservation strategies of Gran Canaria seahorses.


Hippocampus hippocampus Hippocampus guttulatus Mitochondrial DNA Species identification Microsatellites Genetic structure 



This work was supported by the Spanish Goverment (MCYT-CGL2005-05927-C02/-C03) and Xunta de Galicia (PGIDIT06PXIC261075PN). We thank to the Canary Government (Consejería Medio Ambiente) for fieldwork permission. Also, thanks to Miquel Planas (CSIC,Vigo) for supplying Galician samples, María López and Sonia Gómez for technical assistance, and J. Antonio Álvarez-Dios for useful comments. B.G.P. is supported by Isidro Parga Pondal fellowship (Xunta de Galicia).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Almudena López
    • 1
  • Manuel Vera
    • 1
  • Francisco Otero-Ferrer
    • 2
  • Belén G. Pardo
    • 1
  • Paulino Martínez
    • 1
  • Lucía Molina
    • 2
  • Carmen Bouza
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Xenética, Facultade de VeterinariaCampus de Lugo, Universidade de Santiago de CompostelaLugoSpain
  2. 2.Grupo de Investigación en AcuiculturaInstituto Canario de Ciencias Marinas and Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran CanariaTelde, Canary IslandsSpain

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