Panulirus homarus is an economically important spiny lobster that is widespread through the Indo-West Pacific Region, but has an uncertain taxonomic status, with three or four geographic subspecies having been described. This study used mitochondrial (16S, COI and control region) and nuclear (18S, ITS-1) DNA sequences to examine specimens of all putative subspecies and forms from throughout their range, in order to determine their genetic validity, and understand the evolutionary history of this species. Despite the range of diversity present in the loci examined, the results were consistent across genes. P. h. rubellus from the SW Indian Ocean comprised the most divergent lineage that was reciprocally monophyletic with respect to all other P. homarus (approx. 9% divergence in COI), and has likely evolved reproductive barriers. The putative P. h. "Brown" subspecies from the Marquesas Is in the central Pacific also comprised a somewhat divergent monophyletic lineage (approx. 3% in COI), but may simply be an allopatric population. The widespread P. h. homarus was not diverged at all from the described P. h. megasculpta from the NW Indian Ocean. The degree of evolutionary divergence of populations at the extremes distribution of the species is somewhat surprising, given the long pelagic larval stage, but suggests that allopatric speciation has been an important driver in the evolution of the genus. © 2014 Lavery et al.
Research Hub Investigator(s)
Lavery, S.D., Farhadi, A., Farahmand, H., Chan, T.-., Azhdehakoshpour, A., Thakur, V. & Jeffs, A.G. 2014, "Evolutionary divergence of geographic subspecies within the scalloped spiny lobster Panulirus homarus (Linnaeus 1758)", PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 6.
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