To determine the process of population expansion and ascertain the origin of the Sea of Japan population, in a noxious red tide forming dinoflagellate Cochlodinium polykrikoides, 13 samples, isolated from 11 different localities in Japanese and Korean coasts, were analysed using 10 polymorphic microsatellites. Analyses by nonmetric multidimensional scaling plots of pairwise FST, global amova, and genetic admixture analysis identified three clusters — the Sea of Japan populations, Yatsushiro Sea (Kumamoto Pref.) populations, and other populations — indicating genetic structuring of the 13 samples into three distinct populations. In the proportion of shared alleles by pairwise individuals (PSAxy) analyses between the Sea of Japan and the other samples, PSAxy was extremely low compared with that among the Sea of Japan or among other samples, indicating that a large genetic barrier has occurred between the populations. No significant relationship of isolation-by-distance patterns and almost no genetic distance were detected between pairwise samples of the Sea of Japan, although there is a maximal distance of > 600 km between samples. In addition, PSAxy data among the samples were extremely high compared with those among other samples, clearly showing that a large-scale transfer from west to east has occurred via the Tushima Warm Current. In the PSAxy data of the Seto Inland Sea and Pacific samples, individuals showing relatively high PSAxy were concentrated in the three areas of Nagasaki, Harima, and Mie, suggesting that frequent transfer may have occurred by human-assisted dispersal, although Nagasaki and Mie are separated by a distance of approximately 700 km.
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