The genetic structure of six local collections of Pocillopora verrrucosa from six coral reefs in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, was examined using allozyme electrophoresis. The six separate reefs lie within two different reef complexes. Twenty-two enzymes were screened on five buffer systems, but only five polymorphic loci (Gpi–1, Gdh–1, Lgg–2, Lpp–1, Est–1) could be consistently resolved. No significant differences in allelic frequencies were detected among the six sites. All local collections were genotypically diverse, with evidence of only very limited clonal replication at each site. Indeed, the ratio of observed to expected genotypic diversity (mean Go:Ge=0.64±0.05 SD), the ratio of observed number of genotypes to the number of individuals (mean Ng:N=0.65±0.04 SE), and deviations from the Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium indicate that sexual reproduction plays a major role in the maintenance of the populations. No genetic differentiation was found either within (FSR=0.026±0.003 SE) or between (FRT=0.000±0.001 SE) reef complexes. The homogeneity of the gene frequencies across the six reefs strongly supports the assumption that the KwaZulu-Natal reef complexes are highly connected by gene flow (Nem=44). The reefs in the southern and central reef complexes along the northern Maputaland coastline can therefore be considered part of a single population.
KeywordsEnzyme Electrophoresis Allelic Frequency Gene Flow Genetic Structure
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