Population structure within and between subspecies of the Mediterranean triplefin fish Tripterygion delaisi revealed by highly polymorphic microsatellite loci


J. Carreras-Carbonell, Fax: +34-972-33-78–06; E-mail: pep@ceab.csic.es


Although FST values are widely used to elucidate population relationships, in some cases, when employing highly polymorphic loci, they should be regarded with caution, particularly when subspecies are under consideration. Tripterygion delaisi presents two subspecies that were investigated here, using 10 microsatellite loci. A Bayesian approach allowed us to clearly identify both subspecies as two different evolutionary significant units. However, low FST values were found between subspecies as a consequence of the large number of alleles per locus, while homoplasy could be disregarded as indicated by the standardized genetic distance inline image. Heterozygosity saturation was observed in highly polymorphic loci containing more than 15 alleles, and this threshold was used to define two loci pools. The less variable loci pool revealed higher genetic variance between subspecies, while the more variable pool showed higher genetic variance between populations. Furthermore, higher differentiation was also observed between populations using inline image with the more variable loci. Nonetheless, a more reliable population structure within subspecies was obtained when all loci were included in the analyses. In T. d. xanthosoma, isolation by distance was detected between the eight analysed populations, and six genetically homogeneous clusters were inferred by Bayesian analyses that are in accordance with FST values. The neighbourhood-size method also indicated rather small dispersal capabilities. In conclusion, in fish with limited adult and larval dispersal capabilities, continuous rocky habitat seems to allow contact between populations and prevent genetic differentiation, while large discontinuities of sand or deep-water channels seems to reduce gene flow.