MEPS 250:153-162 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps250153

Genetic structure of Botryllus schlosseri (Tunicata) populations from the Mediterranean coast of Israel

Guy Paz1,2,*, Jacob Douek1, Caiqing Mo1, Menachem Goren2, Baruch Rinkevich1

1National Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, PO Box 8030, Haifa 31080, Israel
2Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel

ABSTRACT: Botryllus schlosseri, a subtidal cosmopolitan tunicate species, is abundant in many rocky shores along the Mediterranean and other European seas. A highly polymorphic microsatellite locus (BS-811) elucidated Botryllus population genetics in 3 localities along the Israeli coast (at Shikmona, Caesarea and Michmoret, 12 to 36 km apart from each other, north to south, respectively) during 8 seasonal samplings (2 yr). Four other loci were studied only in the Michmoret population. The analysis on 1156 scorable colonies revealed a high number of alleles per locus (up to 15 to 38 alleles), unique alleles for each population (8 to 13 alleles per locus), high heterozygous deficiency, rapid seasonal changes in allele frequencies at all sites, and the existence of natural chimeric colonies. Locus BS-811, which was studied in all 3 localities, revealed 34 to 40 alleles per locality, and a total of 64 alleles, of which 48% were unique to one or other of the localities. Only 24 colonies from the 1153 studied were heterozygous on this locus. These results are discussed together with recent outcomes from B. schlosseri populations sampled in New Zealand, the east and west coasts of the USA and the Adriatic Sea, Croatia.

KEY WORDS: Botryllus schlosseri · Chimerism · Heterozygous deficiency · Israel · Microsatellites · Population genetics

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