Marine Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 6, pp 1173–1182 | Cite as

Small effective number of parents (Nb) inferred for a naturally spawned cohort of juvenile European flat oysters Ostrea edulis

  • D. HedgecockEmail author
  • S. Launey
  • A. I. Pudovkin
  • Y. Naciri
  • S. Lapègue
  • F. Bonhomme
Research Article


The great fecundity and very high larval mortality of most marine invertebrates and fish make possible substantial variance in the number of offspring contributed by adults to subsequent generations. The reproductive success of such organisms may thus resemble a sweepstakes lottery, in which a minority of progenitors succeeds in replacing an entire population, while the majority fails to procreate. One specific prediction of this hypothesis, that genetic diversity of newly settled cohorts should be less than that of the adult population, is tested in the present study. Microsatellite DNA markers were examined in naturally spawned juvenile European flat oysters Ostrea edulis (L.), collected over a 12-day period in 1993 from the western Mediterranean Sea, near Sète, France (43°32′N, 3°56′E) and grown out for a period of up to 10 months. Variation in these juveniles was compared to that in a pooled sample of adults collected in 1994 from two locations (Thau Lagoon and Port St. Louis) that had statistically homogeneous allelic frequencies. Though nearly twice as large as the pooled adult sample, the juvenile sample had only 60% of the adult allelic diversity. Analyses of linkage disequilibrium and kinship, as well as estimation of the effective number of parents, suggested that 10–20 adults produced this juvenile cohort. This observation supports the hypothesis of sweepstakes reproductive success and suggests that partial inbreeding may occur even in species with large populations and dispersing planktonic larvae.


Adult Sample Planktonic Larva Excess Heterozygosity Flat Oyster Juvenile Sample 
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Supplementary material

227_2006_441_MOESM1_ESM.doc (88 kb)
Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Hedgecock
    • 1
    Email author
  • S. Launey
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • A. I. Pudovkin
    • 5
  • Y. Naciri
    • 2
    • 6
  • S. Lapègue
    • 2
  • F. Bonhomme
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Laboratoire Génétique et PathologieIFREMERLa TrembladeFrance
  3. 3.CNRS-IFREMER, UMR 5171Université Montpellier IISèteFrance
  4. 4.Laboratoire de Génétique des PoissonsINRAJouy en JosasFrance
  5. 5.Institute of Marine BiologyVladivostokRussia
  6. 6.Laboratoire de Génétique et Phylogénie MoléculairesConservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de GenèveGenevaSwitzerland

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