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Free Content Sponges Harbor Genetically Identical Populations of the Zoanthid Parazoanthus Parasiticus

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Many tropical sponges harbor zoanthid populations on their surfaces. Although zoanthid polyps are known to colonize space by budding, it is not known whether an entire population is comprised of a single clone or multiple clones. The purpose of the research presented here is to distinguish between these possibilities. I examined the spatial arrangement and genetic composition of populations of the zoanthid Parazoanthus parasiticus on sponges collected in the Florida Keys, USA. The pattern of dispersion of P. parasiticus on the sponge Callyspongia vaginalis was random for four of the six populations examined. Two populations exhibited overdispersion. Polyp density decreased towards the growing edge of C. vaginalis, and approximately 12% of polyps were in the process of budding. Electrophoretic variability at five enzyme loci indicated that populations of P. parasiticus, collected from three species of sponge, consisted of genetically identical individuals. Heterozygosity at several loci indicated an absence of meiotic segregation, and therefore clonal reproduction. Based on these data, it appears that a single sexually derived larva settles on suitable hosts and colonizes space through asexual reproduction. The ecological and evolutionary consequences of these results are discussed as they relate to local adaptation.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1998-11-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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