• Xiphias gladius;
  • mitochondrial DNA;
  • restriction analysis;
  • genetic structure;
  • gene flow;
  • stock discrimination


Restriction analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 204 individuals of swordfish (Xiphias gladius) revealed no differentiation among samples from three sites in the Mediterranean Sea (Greece, Italy, Spain), but a high degree of differentiation between Mediterranean samples and a sample from the Gulf of Guinea. A fifth sample from the Atlantic side of the Straits of Gibraltar (Tarifa) consisted mostly of mitotypes that are common in the Mediterranean, but contained several of mtDNA types of the Guinea sample not found in the Mediterranean. We conclude that, in spite of free migration of swordfish across the Straits of Gibraltar, little genetic exchange occurs between the populations inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea and the tropical Atlantic ocean. This is the first evidence of genetic differentiation among geographic populations of this highly mobile species that supports a world-wide fishery.