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Microevolutionary distribution of isogenicity in a self-fertilizing fish (Kryptolebias marmoratus) in the Florida Keys.


The mangrove rivulus Kryptolebias marmoratus and a closely related species are the world's only vertebrates that routinely self-fertilize. Such uniqueness presents a model for understanding why this reproductive mode, common in plants and invertebrates, is so rare in vertebrates. A survey of 32 highly polymorphic loci in >200 specimens of mangrove rivulus from multiple locales in the Florida Keys, USA, revealed extensive population-genetic structure on microspatial and micro-temporal scales. Observed heterozygosities were severely constrained, as expected for a hermaphroditic species with a mixed-mating system and low rates of outcrossing. Despite the pronounced population structure and the implied restrictions on effective gene flow, isogenicity (genetic identity across individuals) within and among local inbred populations was surprisingly low even after factoring out probable de novo mutations. Results indicate that neither frequent bottlenecks nor directional genetic adaptation to local environmental conditions were the primary driving forces impacting multilocus population-genetic architecture in this self-fertilizing vertebrate species. On the other hand, a high diversity of isogenic lineages within relatively small and isolated local populations is consistent with the action of diversifying selection driven by the extreme spatio-temporal environmental variability that is characteristic of mangrove habitats.

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