The marine indo-west pacific break: contrasting the resolving power of mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Academic Article uri icon


  • Simultaneous studies of both nuclear and mitochondrial markers were undertaken in two widespread Indo-West Pacific (IWP) marine invertebrates to compare and contrast the ability of these markers to resolve genetic structure. In particular, we were interested in the resolution of a genetic break between the Indian and Pacific Oceans due to historical isolation. Sequence variation from the nuclear gene encoding myosin heavy chain (MyHC) and the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I (COI) were examined for the snapping shrimp Alpheus lottini from wide-ranging populations throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. A previously identified genetic break between oceans based on COI sequences appears to have been an artifact caused by the inadvertent inclusion of pseudogene sequences; our new COI data provide evidence only of a break between IWP and East Pacific populations. Distribution of a single nucleotide polymorphism in MyHC, on the other hand, shows evidence of a cline between Indian and Pacific Oceans. New allozyme and mtDNA sequence data were also obtained for the starfish Linckia laevigata. Allozyme data show a clear genetic break between Indian Ocean populations and Pacific (including western Australian) populations, whereas the distribution of mtDNA haplotypes shows a region of overlap in the central IWP. Comparisons of our data for both Alpheus and Linckia with data from other population genetic studies in the IWP suggest that nuclear markers (allozymes, sequence data and morphological characters) may in some instances reveal historical patterns of genetic population structure whereas mtDNA variation better reflects present day patterns of gene flow.

publication date

  • November 2002