Population genetics features for persistent, but transient, Botryllus schlosseri (Urochordata) congregations in a central Californian marina

Arzu Karahan, Jacob Douek, Guy Paz, Baruch Rinkevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The colonial tunicate Botryllus schlosseri is a globally distributed, invasive ascidian that has colonized the Californian coasts of the USA during the mid-late 1940s and has, since the late 1980s, spread north to Washington. This study analyzes the population genetic characteristics of transient populations residing at the Elkhorn Yacht-Club (EYC), in central California (seven sessions, 1996-2008), which suffered periodic catastrophes caused by episodic fresh-water floods and a single sampling session (in the year 2001) of five West-Coast populations using the mtDNA COI gene and five microsatellite markers. EYC microsatellite results were further compared with the closely situated but persistent population of the Santa Cruz Harbor (SCH) to understand the impact on EYC population regeneration processes after the 2005-flood catastrophe. All microsatellites were highly polymorphic, revealing a large number of unique alleles at different sampling dates. Whereas pairwise θ did not reveal significant differences between the EYC time-series samplings, the overall θ was significant, as it was between all the 2001 West Coast populations. The most likely cluster number was 3 for the EYC samples whereas two K values were obtained (2 and 5) for the 2001 samples. Tajima's D and Fu's/Fs tests did not reject the null hypothesis for COI neutral evolution, except for in the EYC-2000, 2007 and two 2001 samplings. The wide geographical range of the analyses has indicated that following the EYC 2005-flood catastrophe, newcomers could have originated from neighboring populations, from deep-water colonies that may have escaped the 2005 low salinity event, or less expectedly, from far away West-Coast populations, while revealing that the SCH population is the most probable source for the EYC population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-31
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Inc.


  • Ascidian
  • COI
  • Heterozygote deficiency
  • Microsatellite
  • Moss Landing
  • Phylogeography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology


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