Nonconcordant evolutionary history of maternal and paternal lineages in Adriatic sturgeon


Arne Ludwig, Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Department of Evolutionary Genetics, PF 601103, 10252 Berlin, Germany. Fax: +49 30 5126104; E-mail:


Although analyses of intraspecific variability are an important prerequisite for species identification assays, only a few studies have focused on population genetics and historical biogeography of sturgeon species. Here we present the first study on genetic variability of the last remaining Adriatic sturgeon, Acipenser naccarii, derived from mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. Our mitochondrial DNA analyses arranged individuals into three distinguished mitochondrial DNA haplogroups (Po1, Po2 and Buna). Two haplogroups (Po1 and Buna) were correlated to geographical distribution, whereas the third (Po2) was not. It was, however, very closely related to one lineage of its Ponto-Caspian sister species, A. gueldenstaedtii. The distribution of nuclear markers (microsatellites and amplified fragment length polymorphism) was strongly correlated to geographical distribution. An assignment test based on nuclear data placed no specimen of A. naccarii to A. gueldenstaedtii and vice versa. Therefore, the presence of gueldenstaedtii-like haplotypes within the Po population is either the result of a postglacial introgression or an ancestral polymorphism and does not indicate a hybrid population. The most valuable tool for forensic species identification purposes is one diagnostic deletion separating all A. naccarii from A. gueldenstaedtii. As both A. naccarii populations are genetically differentiated, stocking of sturgeon from the Po River in Italy into waters of the Buna River would jeopardize the genetic differences between both populations and should thus be avoided.