The weeded Seadragon genomic reveals very different populations


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Charismatic, iconic and adapted to Instagram, the weedy seadragon is a favorite among divers and divers. The first genomic study on the east coast of Australian seadragon populations can now reveal that “weeds” from NSW, Victoria and Tasmania differ significantly.

Study published in PLOS ONE, also reveals that Victorian weeded seadragons may form a subspecies that has implications for conservation management. Researchers recommend that, as a precaution, these states be managed separately.

Chief Investigator dr. Selma Klanten, from the Fish Ecology Laboratory at the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS), said that despite the public popularity of this fish, there are few scientific studies.

“The aim of the study was to understand the genetic structure and diversity of weed seadragon populations along the east coast of Australia,” said Dr. Clients.

“This is important because, like all synnatids, seadragons are endemic to temperate Australia. As adults, they can only move 50-500 meters from where they were born. This can make them vulnerable to habitat loss and environmental changes.

“Although ‘weeds’ are not listed as endangered, there are concerns that populations are declining, and recent research confirms this. If numbers continue to decline, it could lead to further loss of genetic diversity which could affect future generations of seadragons weeds,” she said. is.

Using the latest genomics (NGS or next-generation sequencing), the researchers identified four different genetic clusters – central NSW, southern NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. High-resolution images were also used to measure the length and shape of the seadragon, revealing that individuals from NSW differed in several measurements from those from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

The combined results suggest that not only do weed seadragon populations differ significantly along the east coast of Australia, but that Victorian weed seadragons may form a subspecies.

“They are very different from NSW and Tasmania and do not interbreed with any other population. Biologists call it reproductively isolated.

“Since Victorian” weeds “are the only animals used in the aquarium trade, worldwide, bias against this population exists in captivity. This has implications for protection management,” said Dr. Clients.

Co-author Professor David Booth, also from UTS’s Ecology Laboratory, remarked “as an ecologist it was clear to me that weeds from populations are differently shaped and occupy different habitat types, but we were surprised at how genetically different they are.

“Most of the global aquariums that show weeds come from the Melbourne area, and that was quite pronounced in our study, so we recommend extra care in managing wild populations there,” Professor Booth said.

The research sites were located in Sydney, Jervis Bay and Eden in NSW; Mornington Peninsula in Victoria; and Tasmania, and were examined over three years between 2016 and 2019. Sampling of these masters of camouflage involved removing a small portion of the tissue from their leafy appendages. Tissue samples were also taken from dead people washed ashore and collected by civilian scientists.

The article “Genomic and morphological evidence of different populations in endemic common (weed) seadragon Phyllopteryx taeniolatus (Syngnathidae) along the east coast of Australia” published PLOS ONE.

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More information:
Genomic and morphological evidence of different populations in the endemic common (weed) seadragon Phyllopteryx taeniolatus (Syngnathidae) along the east coast of Australia, PLOS ONE (2020). DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0243446

Provided by the University of Technology, Sydney

Citation: Weedy Seadragon genomics reveals very different populations (2020, December 23) downloaded December 23, 2020 from

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