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Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis reveals extensive natural chimerism in a marine protochordate


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Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis was applied to individual modules (zooids) of a colonial ascidian to investigate the presence and extent of chimerism, the parabiotic association of different genetic entities. The technique proved to be rapid and efficient for distinguishing different genotypes present in a colony, and revealed genetic mosaicism in wild material, as well as in laboratory cultures following planned fusion. Approximately one-third of colonies in the natural population studied possessed multiple genotypes, presumably as the result of fusion of different colonies. Furthermore, individual zooids of different genetic origin often intermingled after colony fusion, spreading each genotype throughout a larger total area.