Mitochondrial diversity in Gonionemus (Trachylina:Hydrozoa) and its implications for understanding the origins of clinging jellyfish in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean
Govindarajan, Annette F.
Carman, Mary R.
Wares, John P.
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Determining whether a population is introduced or native to a region can be challenging due to inadequate taxonomy, the presence of cryptic lineages, and poor historical documentation. For taxa with resting stages that bloom episodically, determining origin can be especially challenging as an environmentally-triggered abrupt appearance of the taxa may be confused with an anthropogenic introduction. Here, we assess diversity in mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I sequences obtained from multiple Atlantic and Pacific locations, and discuss the implications of our findings for understanding the origin of clinging jellyfish Gonionemus in the Northwest Atlantic. Clinging jellyfish are known for clinging to seagrasses and seaweeds, and have complex life cycles that include resting stages. They are especially notorious as some, although not all, populations are associated with severe sting reactions. The worldwide distribution of Gonionemus has been aptly called a “zoogeographic puzzle” and our results refine rather than resolve the puzzle. We find a relatively deep divergence that may indicate cryptic speciation between Gonionemus from the Northeast Pacific and Northwest Pacific/Northwest Atlantic. Within the Northwest Pacific/Northwest Atlantic clade, we find haplotypes unique to each region. We also find one haplotype that is shared between highly toxic Vladivostok-area populations and some Northwest Atlantic populations. Our results are consistent with multiple scenarios that involve both native and anthropogenic processes. We evaluate each scenario and discuss critical directions for future research, including improving the resolution of population genetic structure, identifying possible lineage admixture, and better characterizing and quantifying the toxicity phenotype.
© The Author(s), 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in PeerJ 5 (2017): e3205, doi:10.7717/peerj.3205.
Suggested CitationPeerJ 5 (2017): e3205
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