Rising the Persian Gulf Black-Lip Pearl Oyster to the Species Level: Fragmented Habitat and Chaotic Genetic Patchiness in Pinctada persica

Marine organisms with long pelagic larval stages are expected to exhibit low genetic differentiation due to their potential to disperse over large distances. Growing body of evidence, however, suggests that marine populations can differentiate over small spatial scales. Here we focused on black-lip pearl oysters from the Persian Gulf that are thought to belong to the Pinctada margaritifera complex given their morphological affinities. This species complex includes seven lineages that show a wide distribution ranging from the Persian Gulf (Pinctada margaritifera persica) and Indian Ocean (P. m. zanzibarensis) to the French Polynesia (P. m. cumingii) and Hawai'i (P. m. galtsoffi). Despite the long pelagic larval phase of P. m. persica, this lineage is absent from continental locations and can only be found on a few islands of the Persian Gulf. Mitochondrial COI-based analyses indicated that P. m. persica belongs to a clearly divergent ESU and groups with specimens from Mauritius (P. m. zanzibarensis). Microsatellite data, used here to assess the spatial scale of realized dispersal of Persian Gulf black-lip pearl oysters, revealed significant genetic structure among islands distant of only a few dozen kilometres. The scantiness of suitable habitats most likely restricted the distribution of this lineage originating the observed chaotic genetic patchiness. The hatchery-based enhancement performed in one of the sampled islands may also have affected population genetic structure. The long-term accumulation of genetic differences likely resulted from the allopatric divergence between P. m. persica and the neighbouring Indian Ocean black-lip pearl oysters.


Black-lip pearl oysters, Pinctada persica, Species delimitation, Persian Gulf, Fragmented habitat

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S1 Supplementary material Pinctada persica sampling locations in the Persian Gulf. Numbers in black circles indicate island locations
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S2 Supplementary material Approximate geographic distribution of the lineages belonging to the Pinctada margaritifera complex
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How to cite
Ranjbar Mohammad Sharif, Zolgharnien Hossein, Yavari Vahid, Archangi Bita, Salari Mohammad Ali, Arnaud-Haond Sophie, Cunha Regina L. (2016). Rising the Persian Gulf Black-Lip Pearl Oyster to the Species Level: Fragmented Habitat and Chaotic Genetic Patchiness in Pinctada persica. Evolutionary Biology. 43 (1). 131-143. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11692-015-9356-1, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00319/43040/

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