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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Analysis of complete miochondrial DNA sequences of three members of the Montastraea annularis coral species complex (Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Scleractinia)


Complete mitochondrial nucleotide sequences of two individuals each of Montastraea annularis,Montastraea faveolata, and Montastraea franksi were determined. Gene composition and order di•ered substantially from the sea anemone Metridium senile, but were identical to that of the phylogenetically distant coral genus Acropora. However, characteristics of the noncoding regions di•ered between the two scleractinian genera. Among members of the M. annularis complex, only 25 of 16,134 base pair positions were variable. Sixteen of these occurred in one colony ofM. franksi, which (together with additional data) indicates the existence of multiple divergent mitochondrial lineages in this species. Overall, rates of evolution for these mitochondrial genomes were extremely slow (0.03–0.04% per million years based on the fossil record of the M. annularis complex). At higher taxonomic levels, patterns of genetic divergence and synonymous/nonsynonymous substitutions suggest non-neutral and unequal rates of evolution between the two lineages to which Montastraea and Acropora belong.

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