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Microsatellite variation and differentiation in North Atlantic eels.


We screened 11 populations of American, European, and Icelandic eels (Anguillidae) for allelic variation and genetic divergence at six polymorphic microsatellite loci. Within either of the two recognized Anguilla species in the North Atlantic (rostrata in the Americas, anguilla in Europe), population genetic structure was statistically significant but weak; fully 95% of the total genetic variation was present within geographic locales rather than distributed among them. The two Anguilla species also overlap greatly in allelic frequencies, so the available data proved ineffective for addressing hypotheses about the possible hybrid origins of some Icelandic eels. The overlapping microsatellite profiles contrast with nearly diagnostic species differences documented previously in allozymes and mtDNA. This and similar empirical findings in several other species support theoretical concerns that homoplasy (convergent evolution) in allelic states can compromise the utility of rapidly mutating microsatellite loci for certain types of microevolutionary questions regarding gene flow and species differences.

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