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Gene flow and the mysterious mating system of the Ghost Shrimp, Callichirus islagrande

Joseph E. Neigel, Ph.D.
University of Louisiana

Wednesday, May 17, 2000
3:00 p.m.—Pacific Forum

Some surprising discoveries have followed the application of genetic markers to studies of animal mating systems. One is the discovery that females of most species engage in polyandry (mating with multiple males). This is surprising because it occurs in species that have been carefully observed and were believed to be monogamous, and because it is unclear what the benefit of polyandry is to females or their offspring.

Genetic markers have also allowed us to investigate the mating systems of animals that are difficult to observe. We have used microsatellite markers to study the population genetics and mating system of the ghost shrimp, a common but seldom seen animal that spends its entire adult life in burrows. Genetic analysis of the eggs brooded by females shows clear evidence of polyandry. Our analysis also suggests that polyandry may be a response to the effects of gene flow from other populations.

Next: Fair and foul are next of kin- Self-nonself recognition and the evolution of individuality in colonial marine invertebrates

Last updated: December 19, 2000