Limited genetic structure of Gulf Menhaden (Brevoortia patronus), as revealed by microsatellite markers developed for the genus Brevoortia (Clupeidae)


Anderson, Joel D., and William J. Karel
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Long-term sustainable management of wild populations should be based on management actions that account for the genetic structure among populations. Knowledge of genetic structure and of the degree of demographic exchange between discreet populations allows managers to better define management units. However, adequate gene loci for population assessments are not always available. In this study, variable co-dominant DNA loci in the heavily exploited marine genus Brevoortia were developed with a microsatellite-enriched DNA library for the Gulf Menhaden (Brevoortia patronus). Microsatellite marker discovery was followed by genetic characterization of 4 endemic North American Brevoortia species, by using 14 novel loci as well as 5 previously described loci. Power analysis of these loci for use in species identification and genetic stock structure was used to assess their potential to improve the stock definition in the menhaden fishery of the Gulf of Mexico. These loci could be used to reliably identify menhaden species in the Gulf of Mexico with an estimated error rate of α=0.0001. Similarly, a power analysis completed on the basis of observed allele frequencies in Gulf Menhaden indicated that these markers can be used to detect very small levels of genetic divergence (Fst≈0.004) among simulated populations, with sample sizes as small as n=50 individuals. A cursory analysis of genetic structure among Gulf Menhaden sampled throughout the Gulf of Mexico indicated limited genetic structure among sampling locations, although the available sampling did not reach the target number (n=50) necessary to detect minimal values of significant structure.