A genomic glance through the fog of plasticity and diversification in Pocillopora.


Johnston, E. C.Forsman, Z.Flot, J. F.Schmidt-Roach, S.Pinzon, J. H.Knapp, I. S. S.Toonen, R. J.


Scientific Reports


Scleractinian corals of the genus Pocillopora (Lamarck, 1816) are notoriously difficult to identify morphologically with considerable debate on the degree to which phenotypic plasticity, introgressive hybridization and incomplete lineage sorting obscure well-defined taxonomic lineages. Here, we used RAD-seq to resolve the phylogenetic relationships among seven species of Pocillopora represented by 15 coral holobiont metagenomic libraries. We found strong concordance between the coral holobiont datasets, reads that mapped to the Pocillopora damicornis (Linnaeus, 1758) transcriptome, nearly complete mitochondrial genomes, 430 unlinked high-quality SNPs shared across all Pocillopora taxa, and a conspecificity matrix of the holobiont dataset. These datasets also show strong concordance with previously published clustering of the mitochondrial clades based on the mtDNA open reading frame (ORF). We resolve seven clear monophyletic groups, with no evidence for introgressive hybridization among any but the most recently derived sister species. In contrast, ribosomal and histone datasets, which are most commonly used in coral phylogenies to date, were less informative and contradictory to these other datasets. These data indicate that extant Pocillopora species diversified from a common ancestral lineage within the last similar to 3 million years. Key to this evolutionary success story may be the high phenotypic plasticity exhibited by Pocillopora species.





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Journal Article

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