Genetic structuring of Eunicella singularis populations along a bathymetric gradient

Terrazzoni, Licia Giovanna (2014) Genetic structuring of Eunicella singularis populations along a bathymetric gradient. [Laurea magistrale], Università di Bologna, Corso di Studio in Biologia marina [LM-DM270] - Ravenna
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Phenotypic plasticity refers to the ability of an organism to express different morphologies depending on the abiotic and biotic environment. Depth integrating many variables (e.g. temperature, light and hydrodynamics), may affect population structure and dynamics of the populations, as well as connectivity patterns and genetic diversity. Eunicella singularis is a Mediterranean arborescent gorgonian who plays an important rule as engineer species providing biomass and complexity to coralligenous habitats. It has a wide bathymetric distribution ranging from shallow rocky bottoms to deep sublittoral reefs. The species shows two depth-related morphotypes which taxonomic status is not yet clarified. The aim of the study is to analyses genetic variability and/or structuring along a vertical gradient to test the presence of the two morphotypes. Furthermore, a preliminary analyses of the phylogenetic relationship among species of the genus Eunicella has been done. Six populations of Eunicella singularis were sampled from 10 to 60 m depth in Cap de Creus and individuals belonging to Eunicella cavolinii, E. verrucosa, E. racemosa and E. stricta aphyta were collected. The genetic analyses were carried out using five microsatellite loci and ITS-1 sequence polymorphism. The results showed a reduction of genetic variability along the vertical gradient. A threshold in connectivity was observed across 30 - 40 m depth, confirming the presence of two different Eunicella singularis morphotypes. The two morphological forms could be due to phenotypic plasticity, which allowed populations to suit different environmental conditions, or to a break in gene flow that determined the isolation of the two populations and an accumulation of genetic differences. The molecular markers used were not able to clarify the phylogenetic relationship among Eunicella species and the systematic position of the two morphotypes, conversely they risen the question on the existence of single species of Mediterranean Eunicella.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di laurea (Laurea magistrale)
Autore della tesi
Terrazzoni, Licia Giovanna
Relatore della tesi
Corso di studio
Ordinamento Cds
Parole chiave
Eunicella singularis, genetic structuring, genetic variability, microsatellite loci, ITS-1
Data di discussione della Tesi
20 Marzo 2014

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