Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Just Accepted

This article has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication. It is in production and has not been edited, so may differ from the final published form.

Elucidation of fine-scale genetic structure of Sandfish (Holothuria scabra) populations in Papua New Guinea and northern Australia

Samantha Nowland , Paul Southgate , Rose Basiita , Dean Jerry


The development of a sandfish (Holothuria scabra) mariculture industry within Papua New Guinea (PNG) is of great socio-economic importance. However, the lack of knowledge surrounding the current population genetic structure throughout the region has raised concern about the genetic impacts of hatchery-augmented sea ranching on the already diminished wild populations. This study evaluated the current population genetic structure of sandfish within PNG, and more broadly across northern Australia, to inform sustainable mariculture practices and provide baseline genetic data within these regions. Microsatellite based population genetic analyses were used to determine the genetic diversity within subpopulations. This analysis found that although microsatellite loci varied widely in the number of alleles (3-28), the overall allelic diversity was similar among all populations sampled. The level of genetic sub-structuring among all populations sampled was low, although significant (FST= 0.037, P= 0.000). Most of these differences were driven by distinctness of the Australian populations from those in PNG, whereby results indicated that PNG populations exhibited a largely panmictic stock structure. No distinct patterns of genetic isolation by distance were detected among the populations examined. Information obtained from this study will improve the management of restocking programs and support a sustainable future for the PNG sandfish mariculture industry.

MF16223  Accepted 13 January 2017

© CSIRO 2017