MEPS 533:237-244 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11354

Whole mitogenome sequencing refines population structure of the Critically Endangered sawfish Pristis pristis

Pierre Feutry1,7,*, Peter M. Kyne1, Richard D. Pillans2, Xiao Chen3, James R. Marthick4, David L. Morgan5, Peter M. Grewe6

1Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Ellengowan Drive, Darwin 0909, Northern Territory, Australia
2CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, 41 Boggo Road, Dutton Park 4102, Queensland, Australia
3Guangxi Mangrove Research Center, Guangxi Academy of Sciences, Beihai 536000, PR China
4Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, 17 Liverpool Street, Hobart 7000, Tasmania, Australia
5Freshwater Fish Group & Fish Health Unit, Centre for Fish & Fisheries Research, School of Veterinary & Life Sciences, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch 6150, Western Australia, Australia
6CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, Castray Esplanade, Hobart 7000, Tasmania, Australia
7Present address: CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, Castray Esplanade, Hobart 7000, Tasmania, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The largetooth sawfish Pristis pristis (Linnaeus, 1758) is a highly threatened euryhaline elasmobranch that in recent times has undergone a significant range contraction. It now only remains in a few areas, with northern Australia being the main stronghold. Previous work using a single mitochondrial gene approach suggested the existence of regional barriers to gene flow in northern Australia. In this study, whole mitochondrial sequences of 92 P. pristis from 7 river drainages across northern Australia were used to refine the population structure. This approach revealed barriers to gene flow at a scale as fine as between adjacent river drainages. Except for those flowing into the Gulf of Carpentaria, all river drainages appeared to host a genetically distinct population. The apparent genetic homogeneity in the Gulf is probably due to freshwater connectivity between river drainages, either during the last glaciation event when the Gulf was a freshwater lake or through contemporary wet season flooding. These results suggest that each river drainage across the species’ range should be considered a discrete management unit unless there is evidence of freshwater connectivity. More broadly, the improved resolution of population structure obtained with whole mitogenome analysis compared to single mitochondrial gene approaches suggests that female reproductive philopatry may have been overlooked in previous studies of some elasmobranch species.


KEY WORDS: Population genetics · Elasmobranch · Philopatry · Dispersal · Control region · D-loop


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Cite this article as: Feutry P, Kyne PM, Pillans RD, Chen X, Marthick J, Morgan DL, Grewe PM (2015) Whole mitogenome sequencing refines population structure of the Critically Endangered sawfish Pristis pristis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 533:237-244. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11354

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