The genetic structure of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean as revealed by nuclear and mitochondrial DNA and its conservation implications

C. Carreras, M. Pascual, L. Cardona, A. Aguilar, D. Margaritoulis, A. Rees, O. Turkozan, Y. Levy, A. Gasith, M. Aureggi, M. Khalil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The population genetic structure of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting in the eastern Mediterranean was assessed by sequencing a fragment of the control region of the mitochondrial DNA (n = 190) and seven microsatellites (n = 112). The two types of markers revealed genetic structuring (mtDNA: γst = 0.212, P < 0.001; nDNA F st = 0.006, P < 0.001), thus indicating that both females and males are philopatric and that gene flow between populations is restricted. Mitochondrial DNA data indicate that the female populations nesting on the islands of Crete and Cyprus have suffered a recent bottleneck or colonization event. However, no bottleneck or founder effect was revealed by nuclear markers, thus indicating male-mediated gene flow from other populations that would increase nuclear genetic variability. Crete, and to a lower extent Cyprus, are thought to play a central role in such male-mediated gene flow that may reduce the negative effect of genetic drift or inbreeding on the small populations of Lebanon and Israel. This population structure indicates that assessing population relevance only on the basis of genetic variability and size would be misleading, as some populations not fulfilling those requirements may play a relevant role in genetic exchange and hence contribute to the overall genetic variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-775
Number of pages15
JournalConservation Genetics
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2007

Keywords

  • Caretta caretta
  • Genetic structure
  • Mediterranean
  • Microsatellite DNA
  • Mitochondrial DNA

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