Genetic variability and structuring of deep Corallium rubrum (Linnaeus, 1758) populations

Carlesi, Lorenzo (2011) Genetic variability and structuring of deep Corallium rubrum (Linnaeus, 1758) populations. [Laurea magistrale], Università di Bologna, Corso di Studio in Biologia marina [LM-DM270] - Ravenna
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ABSTRACT Given the decline of shallow-water red coral populations resulting from over-exploitation and mass mortality events, deeper populations below 50 metres depth (mesophotic populations) are currently the most harvested; unfortunately, very little is known about their biology and ecology. The persistence of these populations is tightly linked to their adult density, reproductive success, larval dispersal and recruitment. Moreover, for their conservation, it is paramount understand processes such as connectivity within and among populations. Here, for the first time, genetic variability and structuring of Corallium rubrum populations collected in the Tyrrhenian Sea ranging from 58 to 118 metres were analyzed using ten microsatellite loci and two mitochondrial markers (mtMSH and MtC). The aims of the work were 1) to examine patterns of genetic diversity within each geographic area (Elba, Ischia and Praiano) and 2) to define population structuring at different spatial scales (from tens of metres to hundreds of kilometres). Based on microsatellite data set, significant deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium due to elevated heterozygote deficiencies were detected in all samples, probably related to the presence of null alleles and/or inbreeding, as was previously observed in shallow-water populations. Moreover, significant levels of genetic differentiation were observed at all spatial scale, suggesting a recent isolation of populations. Biological factors which act at small spatial scale and/or abiotic factors at larger scale (e.g. summer gyres or absence of suitable substrata for settlement) could determine this genetic isolation. Using mitochondrial markers, significant differences were found only at wider scale (between Tuscany and Campania regions). These results could be related to the different mutation rate of the molecular makers or to the occurrence of some historical links within regions. A significant isolation by distance pattern was then observed using both data sets, confirming the restricted larval dispersal capability of the species. Therefore, the hypothesis that deeper populations may act as a source of larvae helping recovery of threatened shallow-water populations is not proved. Conservation strategies have to take into account these results, and management plans of deep and currently harvested populations have to be defined at a regional or sub regional level, similarly to shallow-water populations. Nevertheless, further investigations should be needed to understand better the genetic structuring of this species in the mesophotic zone, e.g. extending studies to other Mediterranean deep-water populations.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di laurea (Laurea magistrale)
Autore della tesi
Carlesi, Lorenzo
Relatore della tesi
Correlatore della tesi
Corso di studio
Ordinamento Cds
Parole chiave
Corallium rubrum - Mesophotic - Mediterranean Sea - Microsatellite - Mitochondrial DNA - Conservation
Data di discussione della Tesi
13 Ottobre 2011

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