No Clear Genetic Distinction Between Morphological Species Within the Coral Genus Platygyra
In the scleractinian genus Platygyra, there are seven recognized morphological species, but fertilization experiments have demonstrated hybridization is possible between these. Allozyme electrophoretic surveys at 9 loci were undertaken to determine the degree of genetic differentiation between three morphologically distinct species Platygyra daedalea, P. sinensis and P. pini collected on the Great Barrier Reef in 1992-93. There was high genetic variation within the three morphological species of Platygyra, but no fixed or near-fixed differences in gene frequencies between morphological species were observed. Low values of Nei's D between morpho-species (ranging from 0.032 to 0.057), further suggested the three morphological species of Platygyra shared a common gene pool. Preliminary electrophoretic screening of four other Platygyra morpho-species suggests this pattern is consistent throughout the genus. Principal coordinates analysis based on nine-locus genotypes showed no relationship between genotype and morphotype in Platygyra and did not indicate the presence of any more than one genetic group in the sample. Genetic exchange appears to occur naturally between morphological species of Platygyra. However, genotypic frequencies in the three morphological species and in pooled samples of all taxa, deviated significantly from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, indicating mating was not entirely random in these groups. It is thought that the deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibria are associated with spawning synchrony within populations, individual incompatibility and patchiness in colony distributions, rather than reproductive isolation between morphological species.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1997-11-01
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