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Genetic and color morph differentiation in the Caribbean sea anemone Condylactis gigantea
Stoletzki, N.; Schierwater, B. (2005). Genetic and color morph differentiation in the Caribbean sea anemone Condylactis gigantea. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 147(3): 747-754.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Stoletzki, N.
  • Schierwater, B., more

    The distribution of phenotypic and genetic variation across environments can provide insights into local adaptation. The tropical sea anemone Condylactis gigantea inhabits a broad spectrum of coral-reef habitats and displays a variety of phenotypes, particularly with respect to color. At the coast of Discovery Bay, Jamaica, individuals with either pink or green tentacle tips show distinct distributions. Pink morphs are more abundant in the lagoon and in deeper areas, while green morphs are more abundant in the forereef and in shallower areas. We use DNA sequence data (ITS1-5.8S) to investigate if variation in color is associated with genetic differentiation in lagoon and forereef habitats about 5 km apart. Population genetic analyses reveal two distinct ITS1-5.8S variants, which differ in relative frequency. The two variants are present in both habitats, but a dearth of intermediates suggests reduced gene flow. In the lagoon, but not the forereef, ITS variants show an association with color. In order to address the potential ecological significance of color, we study UV absorbance and UV acclimatization capacities of pink and green color morphs in the lagoon. Color morphs differed significantly in UV-B absorbance. These results suggest genetic and ecological differentiation in the face of gene flow over short distances.

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