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Genetic diversity and population structure of the commercially harvested sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (Echinodermata, Echinoidea)


S. Duran, Fax: +1 772 4618164; E-mail:


The population structure of the edible Atlanto-Mediterranean sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus is described by analysing sequence variation in a fragment of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase subunit I in 127 individuals from 12 localities across south-west Europe. The study revealed high levels of genetic diversity but low levels of genetic structure, suggesting a large degree of gene flow between populations and panmixis within each, the Mediterranean and Atlantic basins. However, we found significant genetic differentiation between the two basins probably due to restricted gene flow across the geographical boundary imposed by the area of the Strait of Gibraltar. Populations of P. lividus appeared to have experienced a recent demographic expansion in the late Pleistocene. We provide new evidence on the population structure of this commercial species, predicting a healthy stock of this sea urchin on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.