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Global population genetic structure and male-mediated gene flow in the green turtle (Chelonia mydas): RFLP analyses of anonymous nuclear loci.

  • Author(s): Karl, SA
  • Bowen, BW
  • Avise, JC
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

We introduce an approach for the analysis of Mendelian polymorphisms in nuclear DNA (nDNA), using restriction fragment patterns from anonymous single-copy regions amplified by the polymerase chain reaction, and apply this method to the elucidation of population structure and gene flow in the endangered green turtle, Chelonia mydas. Seven anonymous clones isolated from a total cell DNA library were sequenced to generate primers for the amplification of nDNA fragments. Nine individuals were screened for restriction site polymorphisms at these seven loci, using 40 endonucleases. Two loci were monomorphic, while the remainder exhibited a total of nine polymorphic restriction sites and three size variants (reflecting 600-base pair (bp) and 20-bp deletions and a 20-bp insertion). A total of 256 turtle specimens from 15 nesting populations worldwide were then scored for these polymorphisms. Genotypic proportions within populations were in accord with Hardy-Weinberg expectations. Strong linkage disequilibrium observed among polymorphic sites within loci enabled multisite haplotype assignments. Estimates of the standardized variance in haplotype frequency among global collections (FST = 0.17), within the Atlantic-Mediterranean (FST = 0.13), and within the Indian-Pacific (FST = 0.13), revealed a moderate degree of population substructure. Although a previous study concluded that nesting populations appear to be highly structured with respect to female (mitochondrial DNA) lineages, estimates of Nm based on nDNA data from this study indicate moderate rates of male-mediated gene flow. A positive relationship between genetic similarity and geographic proximity suggests historical connections and/or contemporary gene flow between particular rookery populations, likely via matings on overlapping feeding grounds, migration corridors or nonnatal rookeries.

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