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Genetics. 2004 Apr;166(4):1857-70.

Global population genetic structure and male-mediated gene flow in the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas): analysis of microsatellite loci.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida 33620, USA.


We assessed the degree of population subdivision among global populations of green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, using four microsatellite loci. Previously, a single-copy nuclear DNA study indicated significant male-mediated gene flow among populations alternately fixed for different mitochondrial DNA haplotypes and that genetic divergence between populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was more common than subdivisions among populations within ocean basins. Even so, overall levels of variation at single-copy loci were low and inferences were limited. Here, the markedly more variable microsatellite loci confirm the presence of male-mediated gene flow among populations within ocean basins. This analysis generally confirms the genetic divergence between the Atlantic and Pacific. As with the previous study, phylogenetic analyses of genetic distances based on the microsatellite loci indicate a close genetic relationship among eastern Atlantic and Indian Ocean populations. Unlike the single-copy study, however, the results here cannot be attributed to an artifact of general low variability and likely represent recent or ongoing migration between ocean basins. Sequence analyses of regions flanking the microsatellite repeat reveal considerable amounts of cryptic variation and homoplasy and significantly aid in our understanding of population connectivity. Assessment of the allele frequency distributions indicates that at least some of the loci may not be evolving by the stepwise mutation model.

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