Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 9, pp 1841–1855 | Cite as

Population structure and genetic variation of lane snapper (Lutjanus synagris) in the northern Gulf of Mexico

  • S. Karlsson
  • E. Saillant
  • J. R. GoldEmail author
Original Paper


Lane snappers (Lutjanus synagris), sampled from eight localities in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and one locality along the Atlantic coast of Florida, were assayed for allelic variation at 14 nuclear-encoded microsatellites and for sequence variation in a 590 base-pair fragment of the mitochondrially encoded ND-4 gene (mtDNA). Significant heterogeneity among the nine localities in both microsatellite allele and genotype distributions and mtDNA haplotype distributions was indicated by exact tests and by analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA). Exact tests between pairs of localities and spatial analysis of molecular variance (SAMOVA) for both microsatellites and mtDNA revealed two genetically distinct groups: a Western Group that included six localities from the northwestern and northcentral Gulf and an Eastern Group that included three localities, one from the west coast of Florida, one from the Florida Keys, and one from the east (Atlantic) coast of Florida. The between-groups component of molecular variance was significant for both microsatellites (ΦCT = 0.016, P = 0.009) and mtDNA (ΦCT = 0.208, P = 0.010). Exact tests between pairs of localities within each group and spatial autocorrelation analysis did not reveal genetic heterogeneity or an isolation-by-distance effect among localities within either group. MtDNA haplotype diversity was significantly less (P < 0.0001) in the Western Group than in the Eastern Group; microsatellite allelic richness and gene diversity also were significantly less in the Western Group (P = 0.015 and 0.013, respectively). The difference in genetic variability between the two groups may reflect reduced effective population size in the Western Group and/or asymmetric rates of genetic migration. The relative difference in variability between the two groups was substantially greater in mtDNA and may reflect one or more mtDNA selective sweeps; tests of neutrality of the mtDNA data were consistent with this possibility. Bayesian analysis of genetic demography indicated that both groups have experienced a historical decline in effective population size, with the decline being greater in the Western Group. Maximum-likelihood analysis of microsatellite data indicated significant asymmetry in average, long-term migration rates between the two groups, with roughly twofold greater migration from the Western Group to the Eastern Group. The difference in mtDNA variability and the order-of-magnitude difference in genetic divergence between mtDNA and microsatellites may reflect different demographic events affecting mtDNA disproportionately and/or a sexual and/or spatial bias in gene flow and dispersal. The spatial discontinuity among lane snappers in the region corresponds to a known zone of vicariance in other marine species. The evidence of two genetically distinct groupings (stocks) has implications for management of lane snapper resources in the northern Gulf.


Monte Carlo Markov Chain Effective Population Size Allelic Richness Western Group Eastern Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the crew of the RV Tommy Munro (Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, University of Southern Mississippi), the scientific team of the baitfish survey (Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute), E. Ault, K. Doncaster, M. Murphy, and M. Renshaw for assistance in sampling, E. Carson for assistance in generating Fig. 2, D. Portnoy for helpful comments on an early draft of the manuscript, and L. Causey for assistance with Fig. 3. Thanks also to C. Bradfield and M. Renshaw for assistance in the laboratory. Work was supported in part by the MARFIN Program of the U. S. Department of Commerce (Grant NA04-NMF-4330074), and in part by Texas AgriLIFE Research (Project H-6703). Views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect views of the sponsors. This article is number 66 in the series ‘Genetic Studies in Marine Fishes’ and Contribution Number 165 of the Center for Biosystematics and Biodiversity at Texas A&M University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Biosystematics and BiodiversityTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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