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Population structure in the American oyster as inferred by nuclear gene genealogies.

  • Author(s): Hare, MP
  • Avise, JC
  • et al.

Multiple haplotypes from each of three nuclear loci were isolated and sequenced from geographic populations of the American oyster, Crassostrea virginica. In tests of alternative phylogeographic hypotheses for this species, nuclear gene genealogies constructed for these haplotypes were compared to one another, to a mitochondrial gene tree, and to patterns of allele frequency variation in nuclear restriction site polymorphisms (RFLPs) and allozymes. Oyster populations from the Atlantic versus the Gulf of Mexico are not reciprocally monophyletic in any of the nuclear gene trees, despite considerable genetic variation and despite large allele frequency differences previously reported in several other genetic assays. If these populations were separated vicariantly in the past, either insufficient time has elapsed for neutral lineage sorting to have achieved monophyly at most nuclear loci, or balancing selection may have inhibited lineage extinction, or secondary gene flow may have moved haplotypes between regions. These and other possibilities are examined in light of available genetic evidence, and it is concluded that no simple explanation can account for the great variety of population genetic patterns across loci displayed by American oysters. Regardless of the source of this heterogeneity, this study provides an empirical demonstration that different sequences of DNA within the same organismal pedigree can have quite different phylogeographic histories.

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