Conservation Genetics

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 103–119 | Cite as

Microsatellite DNA variation in Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) and cross-species amplification in the Acipenseridae

  • T.L. King
  • B.A. Lubinski
  • A.P. Spidle


Overharvest and habitat alteration have led toa collapse of most commercial Atlantic sturgeon(Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus)fisheries while pushing the species to rarityor extirpation in most of its historical range. A biologically sound conservation program forthis species requires knowledge of its geneticdiversity and of the evolutionary relationshipsamong geographic populations. To address theseresearch needs, six microsatellite loci wereisolated from A. o. oxyrinchus. Pedigreeanalysis suggested that all are inherited in acodominant Mendelian pattern. The six lociwere tested in ten additional sturgeon speciesfrom three genera and three apparent ploidylevels (4n, 8n, 16n). Approximately 70% ofsuccessful locus-species amplifications werepolymorphic. Polysomy was observed most oftenin 8n and 16n species. Genetic diversity andpopulation structure of A. o. oxyrinchuswere assayed using three polymorphic Aoxmarkers and four markers developed from lakesturgeon (A. fulvescens). A. o.oxyrinchus were sampled from the AltamahaRiver, Georgia, USA north to the St. LawrenceRiver, Quebec, Canada. Gulf sturgeon, A.o. desotoi, were sampled from the SuwanneeRiver, Florida, USA, to assess differentiationbetween the subspecies. Seventy-seven alleleswere observed to segregate into uniquemultilocus genotypes for each of the 392individuals assayed. Mean diversity wasgreatest in the Chesapeake Bay (9.7 alleles perlocus) and Delaware River (7.4 alleles perlocus) collections, and lowest in the St.Lawrence River (4.6 alleles per locus). Meanheterozygosity across seven loci ranged from44.3% (St. Lawrence River) to 62.6% (Altamaha River). Significant allelic heterogeneity wasobserved in 82% of pairwise comparisons aswell as a global test (p < 0.0001) for A.o. oxyrinchus collections. Genetic distancesuggests the presence of at least sixsubpopulations in A. o. oxyrinchus: St.Lawrence River, St. John River, Hudson River,Delaware River, Albemarle Sound, and AltamahaRiver. Genetic and geographic distances werepositively correlated (r = 0.57, p < 0.03) amongA. o. oxyrinchus, suggesting isolation bydistance and philopatry. Hierarchical genediversity analysis indicated significantgenetic population structure at every level. Maximum likelihood assignment tests correctlyassigned individual fish to collection with ahigh rate of success (mean = 87.5%); this andother lines of evidence indicated that theChesapeake Bay collection represents a mixedpopulation of sub-adult sturgeon from northernand southern Atlantic coast populations. Population structure was correlated with thatsuggested by earlier mitochondrial (mt) DNAanalyses. Significant diversity was observedbetween two Canadian populations from whichonly a single mtDNA haplotype has beenreported.

acipenseriformes endangered species act population genetics sequence homology stock identification 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • T.L. King
    • 1
  • B.A. Lubinski
    • 1
  • A.P. Spidle
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Biological Resources Division – U.S. Geological Survey, Aquatic Ecology Laboratory –Leetown Science CenterKearneysvilleUSA
  2. 2.Johnson Control World ServicesLafayetteUSA

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