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Mol Ecol. 2010 Jul;19(14):2933-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04685.x. Epub 2010 Jun 24.

Phylogeography of the marine macroalga Sargassum hemiphyllum (Phaeophyceae, Heterokontophyta) in northwestern Pacific.

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Simon F. S. Li Marine Science Laboratory, Department of Biology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong SAR, China.


Sargassum hemiphyllum is commonly found in Japan and Korea, with a variety, var. chinense, that is found distributed in the southern Chinese coast. We previously reported distinct genetic differentiation between the two taxa based on the PCR-RFLP data of plastid RubiscoL-S spacer. The present study aims at elucidating the phylogeographic pattern of S. hemiphyllum based on more markers in the nuclear and extranuclear genomes, with a view to reveal the occurrence of hybridization. The two allopatrically distributed taxa were found to be genetically distinct in nuclear ITS2, plastidial Rubisco (Rbc) and mitochondrial TrnW_I (Trn) spacers. Their divergence was postulated to be attributable to the vicariant event which resulted from the isolation of the Sea of Japan during the late Miocene (6.58-11.25 Mya). Divergence within both S. hemiphyllum and the chinense variety was observed based on Trn spacer, while the divergence in S. hemiphyllum was further confirmed in Rbc spacer. This divergence appears to correspond to the separation of the Japanese populations between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific that occurred around 0.92-2.88 Mya (the early Pleistocene). The presence of an ITS2 clone resembling var. chinense sequences in a Japanese population of S. hemiphyllum (JpNS) raises the possibility of the introgression of var. chinense individuals into S. hemiphyllum population. Compared to that between S. hemiphyllum and the chinense variety, hybridization among the Japanese and Korean populations of S. hemiphyllum is highly probable as all these individuals share a pool of nuclear ITS2 sequences, possibly attributable to incomplete concerted evolution of ITS2.

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