Free Content Hybridization of the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) in the Pacific Ocean: Indication of an Absence of Gender Bias in the Directionality of Crosses

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On 5 September 1999 a juvenile sea turtle (BLA-428) was captured near Bahía de los Angeles, Gulf of California, Mexico. The presence of intermediate morphological characteristics suggested this turtle was a hybrid between a green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). BLA-428 exhibited intermediate morphology with respect to number of post-orbital scales, number of prefrontal scales, presence of a median ridge on the lower mandible, carapace scute imbrication, marginal scute dentation, and number of claws on the front flippers. To determine the genotype of BLA-428, we amplified a single-copy nuclear locus CM-14A known to contain species-specific restriction site polymorphisms. Restriction enzyme digests (Dra I and Nde I) of the CM14A fragment indicated this individual was a cross between C. mydas and either E. imbricata or Caretta caretta. Sequence of the mitochondrial DNA control region indicated the mother was E. imbricata with a common Pacific haplotype. This is the first known case of a C. mydas × E. imbricata cross in the Pacific Ocean Basin. Further, it provides the first clear evidence for bi-directional hybridization in marine turtles.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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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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