Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri: Dipnoi) have low genetic variation at allozyme and mitochondrial DNA loci: a conservation alert?

Francesca Frentiu, Jenny Ovenden, Raewyn Street

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Genetic variation at allozyme and mitochondrial DNA loci was investigated in the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri Krefft 1870. Tissue samples for genetic analysis were taken non-lethally from 278 individuals representing two spatially distinct endemic populations (Mary and Burnett rivers), as well as one population thought to be derived from an anthropogenic translocation in the 1890 s (Brisbane river). Two of 24 allozyme loci resolved from muscle tissue were polymorphic. Mitochondrial DNA nucleotide sequence diversity estimated across 2,235 base pairs in each of 40 individuals ranged between 0.000423 and 0.001470 per river. Low genetic variation at allozyme and mitochondrial loci could be attributed to population bottlenecks, possibly induced by Pleistocene aridity. Limited genetic differentiation was detected among rivers using nuclear and mitochondrial markers suggesting that admixture may have occurred between the endemic Mary and Burnett populations during periods of low sea level when the drainages may have converged before reaching the ocean. Genetic data was consistent with the explanation that lungfish were introduced to the Brisbane river from the Mary river. Further research using more variable genetic loci is needed before the conservation status of populations can be determined, particularly as anthropogenic demands on lungfish habitat are increasing. In the interim we recommend a management strategy aimed at conserving existing genetic variation within and between rivers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63 - 67
Number of pages5
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

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