ESR 27:233-241 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00665

DNA from historical and trophy samples provides insights into white shark population origins and genetic diversity

Chrysoula Gubili1,9,*, Cory E. C. Robinson1,*, Geremy Cliff2, Sabine P. Wintner2, Eleonora de Sabata3, Sabina De Innocentiis4, Simonepietro Canese4, David W. Sims5,6,7, Andrew P. Martin8, Leslie R. Noble1,**, Catherine S. Jones1,**,***

1Institute of Biological and Environmental Science, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Zoology Building, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK
2KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, Private Bag 2, Umhlanga Rocks 4320, and Biomedical Resource Unit, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4000, South Africa
3MedSharks, via Ruggero Fauro 82, 00197 Rome, Italy
4Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Marine Molecular Biology Lab (BMM), via Vitaliano Brancati 60, 00166 Rome, Italy
5Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth PL1 2PB, UK
6Marine Biology and Ecology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
7Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton, University of Southampton, Waterfront Campus, European Way, Southampton SO14 3ZH, UK
8Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, N122 Ramaley, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA
9Present address: Coordenação de Biodiversidade, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Av. André Araújo 2936, Manaus, AM 69060-001, Brazil
*Authors contributed equally **Joint last authors***Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Characterizing genetic variation by retrospective genotyping of trophy or historical artifacts from endangered species is an important conservation tool. Loss of genetic diversity in top predators such as the white shark Carcharodon carcharias remains an issue, exacerbated in this species by declining, sometimes isolated philopatric populations. We successfully sequenced mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) D-loop from osteodentine of contemporary South African white shark teeth (from 3 jaws), and from 34 to 129 yr old dried cartilage and skin samples from 1 Pacific Ocean and 5 Mediterranean sharks. Osteodentine-derived sequences from South African fish matched those derived from an individual’s finclips, but were generally of poorer quality than those from skin and cartilage of historical samples. Three haplotypes were identified from historical Mediterranean samples (n = 5); 2 individuals had unique sequences and 3 shared the contemporary Mediterranean haplotype. Placement of previously undescribed mtDNA haplotypes from historical material within both the Mediterranean and Pacific clades fits with the accepted intra-specific phylogeny derived from contemporary material, verifying our approaches. The utility of our methodology is in its provision of additional genetic resources from osteodentine (for species lacking tooth pulp) and cartilage of rare and endangered species held in often uncurated, contemporary and historical dry collections. Such material can usefully supplement estimates of connectivity, population history, and stock viability. We confirm the depauperate haplotype diversity of historical Mediterranean sharks, consistent with founding by a small number of Pacific colonizers. The consequent lack of diversity suggests serious challenges for the maintenance of this top predator and the Mediterranean ecosystem.


KEY WORDS: Teeth · White shark · Carcharodon carcharias · Museum specimens · Mitochondrial DNA · Genotyping · Mediterranean · Cartilage · Osteodentine


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Cite this article as: Gubili C, Robinson CEC, Cliff G, Wintner SP and others (2015) DNA from historical and trophy samples provides insights into white shark population origins and genetic diversity. Endang Species Res 27:233-241. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00665

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