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Recent origin and semi-permeable species boundaries in the scleractinian coral genus Stylophora from the Red Sea
Arrigoni, R.; Benzoni, F.; Terraneo, T.I.; Caragnano, A.; Berumen, M.L. (2016). Recent origin and semi-permeable species boundaries in the scleractinian coral genus Stylophora from the Red Sea. NPG Scientific Reports 6(34612): 13 pp. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1038/srep34612
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Arrigoni, R.
  • Benzoni, F.
  • Terraneo, T.I.
  • Caragnano, A.
  • Berumen, M.L.

Abstract
    Reticulate evolution, introgressive hybridisation, and phenotypic plasticity have been documented in scleractinian corals and have challenged our ability to interpret speciation processes. Stylophora is a key model system in coral biology and physiology, but genetic analyses have revealed that cryptic lineages concealed by morphological stasis exist in the Stylophora pistillata species complex. The Red Sea represents a hotspot for Stylophora biodiversity with six morphospecies described, two of which are regionally endemic. We investigated Stylophora species boundaries from the Red Sea and the associated Symbiodinium by sequencing seven DNA loci. Stylophora morphospecies from the Red Sea were not resolved based on mitochondrial phylogenies and showed nuclear allele sharing. Low genetic differentiation, weak isolation, and strong gene flow were found among morphospecies although no signals of genetic recombination were evident among them. Stylophora mamillata harboured Symbiodinium clade C whereas the other two Stylophora morphospecies hosted either Symbiodinium clade A or C. These evolutionary patterns suggest that either gene exchange occurs through reticulate evolution or that multiple ecomorphs of a phenotypically plastic species occur in the Red Sea. The recent origin of the lineage leading to the Red Sea Stylophora may indicate an ongoing speciation driven by environmental changes and incomplete lineage sorting.

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