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Durante MD, Baums IB.2017. Genome-wide survey of single-nucleotide polymorphisms reveals fine-scale population structure and signs of selection in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata. PeerJ Preprints5:e3043v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.3043v1
The advent of next-generation sequencing tools has made it possible to conduct fine-scale surveys of population differentiation and genome-wide scans for signatures of selection in non-model organisms. Such surveys are of particular importance in sharply declining coral species, since knowledge of population boundaries and signs of local adaptation can inform restoration and conservation efforts. Here, genome-wide surveys of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the threatened Caribbean elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, reveal fine-scale population structure and place the major barrier to gene flow that separates the eastern and western Caribbean populations between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. The exact location of this break had been subject to discussion because two previous studies based on microsatellite data had come to differing conclusions. We investigate this contradiction by analyzing an extended set of 12 microsatellite markers including the five previously employed and discovered that one of the original microsatellite loci is apparently under selection. Exclusion of this locus reconciles the results from the SNP and the microsatellite datasets. Scans for outlier loci in the SNP data detected 12 candidate loci under positive selection. Together, these results suggest that restoration of populations should use local sources and utilize existing functional variation among populations in ex situ crossing experiments to improve stress resistance of this species.