Estimation of marine connectivity through microsatellites and genome­wide next generation sequencing approaches

Lorenzo Zane, Leonardo Congiu

Studies of genetic isolation patterns provide a powerful source of information for the inference of connectivity among populations of marine organisms. These are especially relevant for the identification of sites (or network of sites) to be protected and for the establishment of effective conservation strategies aimed to the long term preservation of biodiversity. In this context two projects (COCONET and PRIN) are now ongoing using both microsatellites and novel next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. The advent of NGS provides appropriate tools for population genomics approaches that can be suitable for addressing the genetic connectivity issue, by providing information on an enormous amount of genetic polymorphism collected at the genome­wide scale.
The project “Towards COast to COast NETworks of marine protected areas (MPA)” (COCONET, FP7/2007‐2013 Grant Agreement No. 287844) aims to identify groups of putatively interconnected MPAs in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, shifting from local (single MPA) to regional (Networks of MPAs) and basin (network of networks) scales. The coastal focus is widened to off shore and deep sea habitats, comprising them in MPAs Networks.
The project “Coastal bioconstructions: structure, function, and management” (PRIN2010-MIUR prot.2010Z8HJ5M) focuses on coastal bioconstructions as key habitats for both the management and the conservation of marine biodiversity. The aim is to characterize coastal bioconstructions and to identify sites to propose as Sites of Community Importance (SCI), in addition to the commonly accepted ones based on the presence of Posidonia oceanica.

Selected publications

Schiavina M., Marino I.A.M., Zane L., Melià P., 2014. Matching oceanography and genetics at the basin scale. Seascape connectivity of the Mediterranean shore crab in the Adriatic Sea. Molecular ecology 23 (22): 5496-5507

Pujolar J.M., Schiavina M., Di Franco A., Melià P., Guidetti P., Gatto M., De Leo G.A., Zane L., 2013. Understanding the effectiveness of marine protected areas using genetic connectivity patterns and Lagrangian simulations. Diversity and Distributions 19 (12): 1531-1542

Di Franco A., Coppini G., Pujolar J.M., De Leo G.A., Gatto M., Lyubartsev V., Melia P., Zane L., Guidetti P., 2012. Assessing dispersal patterns of fish propagules from an effective Mediterranean marine protected area. PLoS ONE 7: e52108