Comparative study of genetic variability of AAT and CT/GT microsatellites in staghorn coral, Acropora (Scleractinia: Acroporidae)

Pei Ciao Tang, Nuwei Vivian Wei, Chein Wei Chen, Carden C. Wallace, Chaolun Allen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Acropora is the most speciose genus of scleractinian corals. However, phylogenies among closely related species and population genetics of Acropora remain equivocal. In this study, 7 AAT-repeat loci developed from the Caribbean species, A. palamta, and 5 dinucleotide (CT/GT)-repeat microsatellites newly developed from the Indo-West-Pacific (IWP) species, A. muricata, were examined to determine their utility for revealing the mutation rate and genetic diversity of Acropora species. Five of the 8 AAT-repeat loci were successfully amplified in IWP species, with DNA sequences in the fanking region showing over 97% similarity to those of the Caribbean species, suggesting homology of these AAT loci among these cross-oceanic Acropora. In contrast, amplifcations of all GT-repeat loci failed in the Caribbean species. Eight loci (5 AAT and 3 CT/GT ones) showed Mendelian inheritance based on crossing experiments of A. muricata larvae. When the mutation rate (θ) was estimated, AAT-repeat loci showed relatively higher mutation rates (θ = 39.94-112.82) compared to GT-repeat loci (θ = 2.44-53.33). Analysis of molecular variance indicated a relatively higher within-population variation at AAT-repeat loci (98.6%) than at GT-repeat loci (78.7%). The FST statistic of 2 sympatric Acropora species (A. muricata and A. digitifera) indicated that the value for AAT loci (FST = 0.014) was about 15 times lower than that for GT loci (FST = 0.213), although both microsatellite motifs showed statistically signifcant differentiation of species. Our study highlights that AAT-repeat loci might have functional constraints and result in underestimating the genetic variability of species and populations; thus, their application to revealing genetic variations within Acropora should be utilized with caution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-668
Number of pages12
JournalZoological Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Acropora
  • Dinucleotide
  • Microsatellite
  • Mutation rate
  • Trinucleotide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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