Long-term changes in population genetic features of a rapidly expanding marine invader: implication for invasion success

Giovanni Giallongo, Jacob Douek, Zoya Harbuzov, Bella S. Galil, Baruch Rinkevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large blooms of Rhopilema nomadica, a highly venomous rhizostamatid scyphozoan species introduced to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, have become ubiquitous in the summer and winter months along the Israeli coasts since the mid-1980s. This species has since spread across the eastern Mediterranean and was sighted as far west as Tunisia and Sardinia. For the past 12 years, we have studied changes in the mitochondrial COI haplotypes diversity of R. nomadica to investigate small scale fluctuactions of genetic diversity and to reveal possible genetic structuring of the fast spreading invader in the Eastern Mediterranean. The 1091 COI sequences analysed, revealed a highly diverse population displaying 89 haplotypes, 46 of which appeared as singletons, low frequency haplotypes. All the specimens analysed throughout the period belong to a single unstructured population. Though lacking data from the source population in the Red Sea, the high within-population diversity and the high diversity of COI haplotypes support the hypothesis of multiple introductions events, or an open corridor with a continuous influx of propagules. Tajima’s D and Fu’s Fst negative values and the increased numbers of COI singletons from early to late sampling periods, have verified that the Israeli population is characterized by a rapid expanding population. Further research is needed for the evaluation of COI diversity and patterns in R. nomadica populations across the eastern Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea, as well as any correlation of the high variability between COI locus and phenotypic diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2541-2552
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Haplotype diversity
  • Invasive species
  • Israel
  • Jellyfish
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI)
  • Rhopilema nomadica
  • Singletons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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