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Reproduction and Genetic Structure in a Reef-Forming Glass Sponge, Aphrocallistes vastus Open Access


Other title
Glass sponge
Deep sea
Ion Torrent
Genomic Duplication
Larval dispersal
Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms
Next generation sequencing
Population Genetics
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Brown, Rachel R
Supervisor and department
Leys, Sally (Biological Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Davis, Corey (Biological Sciences)
Sperling, Felix (Biological Sciences)
Gallin, Warren (Biological Sciences)
Department of Biological Sciences
Systematics and Evolution
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Reef-forming glass sponges are ecosystem engineers that provide habitat for a diverse assemblage of benthic marine species. Sixteen glass sponge reefs have recently been discovered at 100-200 m depth off the coast of British Columbia, Canada and are of conservation interest. Nothing is known of the genetic diversity or connectivity of these glass sponge populations or the extent of clonality, details that would better inform the design of protected areas. Previous work on the primary reef-forming species in the Strait of Georgia (SoG), \textit{Aphrocallistes vastus}, has faced challenges in developing non-duplicated (diploid) markers. Here I develop a panel of single-copy, informative single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers using a novel technique involving next generation sequencing (NGS). I examine the genetic structure of \textit{A. vastus} at both reef and non-reef sites at multiple scales: 1) across individuals sampled within and between clumps in reefs, 2) between reefs, and 3) between sites within and outside the SoG. I show that the reefs are formed through sexual reproduction. Within a reef, and even within the SoG basin, genetic distance between individuals does not vary according to geographic distance, suggesting the presence of larvae that disperse throughout the SoG. Importantly, populations within the SoG are genetically distinct from populations in Barkley Sound, west of Vancouver Island. These results highlight the effectiveness of a new NGS methodology for overcoming problems posed by genomic duplication in some invertebrates, emphasize genetic mixing across reefs, and provide a baseline of connectivity that can provide insight into the management requirements of marine protected areas currently under discussion.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Kahn, A.S., L.J. Vehring, R.R. Brown, and S.P. Leys. 2015. Dynamic change, recruitment and resilience in reef-forming glass sponges. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom:in press.Brown, R.R., C.S. Davis, and S.P. Leys. 2014. SNP discovery in a reef-forming glass sponge, Aphrocallistes vastus, using the Ion Torrent next generation sequencing platform. Conservation Genetics Resources 6:49–51.

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