Conservation Genetics

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 137–150 | Cite as

Closely related and sympatric but not all the same: genetic variation of Indo-West Pacific Rhizophora mangroves across the Malay Peninsula

  • Wei Lun Ng
  • Yoshitaka Onishi
  • Nobuyuki Inomata
  • Kosuke M. Teshima
  • Hung Tuck Chan
  • Shigeyuki Baba
  • Suchitra Changtragoon
  • Iskandar Z. Siregar
  • Alfred E. Szmidt
Research Article


Members of the mangrove genus Rhizophora represent the most commonly occurring and highly valued species in the Indo-West Pacific region. However, to date, few studies have been directed towards the understanding of their genetic variation. The levels and patterns of genetic variation at chloroplast and nuclear gene regions were studied in R. apiculata, R. mucronata, and R. stylosa sampled from Southeast Asia and Japan. All three species were characterized by low intraspecific genetic variation and a deficiency of heterozygotes in populations within the region, consistent with findings in studies on other mangrove species. Rhizophora mucronata and R. stylosa were also found to be more closely related than any of them with R. apiculata. During the Last Glacial Maximum, sea levels dropped to 120 m below the current levels, exposing part of the Sunda Shelf that became a barrier that limited gene flow between marine species living in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Today, the Malay Peninsula is thought to still serve as a barrier to gene flow between populations occurring on its coasts. The pattern of genetic differentiation of R. apiculata supports the hypothesis of the land barrier effect of the Malay Peninsula, but such patterns were not found in R. mucronata and R. stylosa. Our findings suggest that R. apiculata, R. mucronata, and R. stylosa have different demographic histories despite being closely related and having sympatric distributions today. Furthermore, all three species appear to have high levels of inbreeding due to limited pollen and propagule dispersal, and that both these factors contributed to population differentiation.


Population structure Sunda Shelf Sympatric species Hybridization Land barrier Propagule dispersal 



We thank Prof. Cecep Kusmana of the Bogor Agricultural University (Indonesia) for assisting with the access to the Rhizophora samples in Indonesia. Dr. Marko Jusup, Dr. Firouzeh Javadi, and anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments and suggestions to an earlier draft of the manuscript. This study was supported in part by the Global Environment Research Fund (D-0901) from the Ministry of Environment, Japan, and the Global COE Program, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology (MEXT), Japan.

Supplementary material

10592_2014_647_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (664 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 664 kb) (48 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (ZIP 48 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Lun Ng
    • 1
    • 5
  • Yoshitaka Onishi
    • 1
    • 6
  • Nobuyuki Inomata
    • 1
    • 7
  • Kosuke M. Teshima
    • 1
  • Hung Tuck Chan
    • 2
  • Shigeyuki Baba
    • 2
  • Suchitra Changtragoon
    • 3
  • Iskandar Z. Siregar
    • 4
  • Alfred E. Szmidt
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Systems Life SciencesKyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan
  2. 2.International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME)OkinawaJapan
  3. 3.Forest Genetics and Biotechnology Division, Forest and Plant Conservation Research Office, Department of National ParkWildlife and Plant ConservationBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Department of Silviculture, Faculty of ForestryBogor Agricultural University (IPB)BogorIndonesia
  5. 5.Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular SciencesUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSelangorMalaysia
  6. 6.Graduate School of ScienceOsaka UniversityOsakaJapan
  7. 7.Department of Environmental Science, International College of Arts and SciencesFukuoka Women’s UniversityFukuokaJapan

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