Mitochondrial DNA differentiation and population structure in red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean

J. R. Gold, L. R. Richardson, C. Furman, T. L. King

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40 Scopus citations


Variation in mitochondrial (mt)DNA was examined among 473 red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) sampled in 1988 and 1989 from nearshore localities in the northern Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) and the Atlantic coast of the southeastern United States (Atlantic). Data were combined with those from a previous study to generate a total of 871 individuals sampled from 11 localities in the Gulf and 5 localities in the Atlantic. Individuals assayed were from the 1986 and 1987 year-classes. A total of 118 composite mtDNA genotypes (haplotypes) was found. The percentage nucleotide sequence divergence among the 118 haplotypes ranged from 0.184 to 1.913, with a mean (±SE) of 0.878±0.004. MtDNA nucleon diversities and intrapopulational nucleotide-sequence divergence values were similar over all Gulf and Atlantic localities, and were high relative to most fish species surveyed to date. These data indicate that the perceived decline in red drum abundance appears not to have affected the genetic variability base of the species. Significant heterogeneity in the frequencies of at least four haplotypes was detected between pooled samples from the Gulf vs pooled samples from the Atlantic. No heterogeneity was found among localities from the Gulf or localities from the Atlantic. High levels of gene flow among all localities were inferred from FST values (a measure of the variance in mtDNA haplotype frequencies) and from Slatkin's qualitative and quantitative analyses. Parsimony and phenetic analyses revealed no strong evidence for phylogeographic cohesion of localities, although there was weak support for cohesion of four of five localities from the Atlantic. These data indicate that the red drum population is subdivided, with weakly differentiated subpopulations (stocks) occurring in the northern Gulf and along the Atlantic coast of southeastern USA. Spatial autocor-relation analysis and heterogeneity tests of haplotype frequencies among regions within the Gulf supported the hypothesis of increased gene flow among neighboring localities; i.e., migration of individuals within the Gulf may be inversely related to geographic distance from an estuary or bay of natal origin. Estimates of evolutionary effective female-population size indicate that the red drum subpopulations may be large.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Biology: International Journal on Life in Oceans and Coastal Waters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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