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Open Access Mitogenomic investigation reveals a cryptic lineage of Crocodylus in Cuba

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The American crocodile, Crocodylus acutus (Cuvier, 1807), is the most widely distributed crocodylian in the Americas, and coexists with the endemic and critically endangered Cuban crocodile, Crocodylus rhombifer Cuvier, 1807. Although these species are morphologically distinguishable, previous studies have shown that they are more genetically related to each other than either of them are to continental C. acutus. Here, we characterize the mitochondrial genome of Cuban C. acutus and analyze the resulting data relative to previously published whole mitochondrial genomes to reconstruct patterns of variation and phylogenetic placement within Crocodylus. We sequenced 13,776 basepairs, representing 82% of the entire genome including five (COI, COII, ATP8, ND3, ND4L) of the 13 protein-coding genes and 16 of the 22 tRNAs. Independent gene analysis of nucleotide diversity and genetic distance of Tamura-Nei demonstrated that the 16S rRNA, 12S rRNA, and COI genes are the most conserved in Crocodylus, while ND6 was the most variable (approximately 9%). Phylogenetic analysis confirmed that Cuban C. acutus forms a well-supported sister relationship with C. rhombifer, in contrast to continental C. acutus that clusters with Crocodylus intermedius Graves, 1819. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that Antillean C. acutus represents a cryptic lineage with genetic divergence at the species level. The ability to fully evaluate the taxonomic status of the Caribbean lineage of C. acutus still requires more comprehensive population samplings across the range as well as nuclear DNA sequence data. Of more immediate consequence, our results provide important information to be integrated into current Crocodylus conservation strategies in Cuba.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, Universidad de La Habana, Calle 16 #114, entre 1ra y 3ra, Miramar, Playa, Código Postal 11 300, Havana, Cuba, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de La Habana, Calle 25 # 455, entre J e I, Plaza Vedado, Código Postal 10 400, Havana, Cuba;, Email: [email protected] 2: Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, Universidad de La Habana, Calle 16 #114, entre 1ra y 3ra, Miramar, Playa, Código Postal 11 300, Havana, Cuba, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de La Habana, Calle 25 # 455, entre J e I, Plaza Vedado, Código Postal 10 400, Havana, Cuba 3: Department of Biology, University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, 3247 University Way, Kelowna, V1V 1V7, British Columbia, Canada 4: Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, New York 10024

Publication date: 01 April 2018

This article was made available online on 25 August 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "Mitogenomic investigation reveals a cryptic lineage of Crocodylus in Cuba".

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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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