Gene-flow patterns in Atlantic and Mediterranean populations of the Lusitanian sea star Asterina gibbosa


M. W. Bruford, Fax: +44-29-20874305, E-mail:


In this study, the population structure of the Lusitanian sea star Asterina gibbosa was assessed using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP). One hundred and twenty-two AFLP loci were analysed in 159 individuals from eight populations from across the species’ range and revealed high levels of genetic diversity, with all individuals but two harbouring a unique banding pattern. As reported for other marine invertebrates, we found high levels of genetic differentiation between the Atlantic and Mediterranean basins, suggesting that the Strait of Gibraltar represents a major barrier to dispersal for this sea star. Our assignment studies suggest that, in the Atlantic, a measurable degree of gene flow occurs between populations, which could result in the isolation-by-distance pattern of differentiation observed in this basin. In contrast, no evidence of contemporary gene flow was found in the Mediterranean, suggesting contrasting patterns of dispersal of Asterina gibbosa in the Atlantic and Mediterranean basins.