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Small yellow croaker, Larimichthys polyactis (Bleeker, 1877), a commercially important benthopelagic fish, is widely distributed in the Bohai, Yellow and East China Seas. To evaluate the population genetic structure and demographic history of L. polyactis, we sequenced the complete mitochondrial deoxyribonucleic acid (mtDNA) control region (798 to 801 bp) in 127 individuals sampled from seven localities throughout its distribution region in China. A total of 136 polymorphic sites were detected, which defined 125 haplotypes. High haplotype diversity (1.000 ± 0.013 to 1.000 ± 0.034) and moderate nucleotide diversity (0.0112 ± 0.0061 to 0.0141 ± 0.0075) were detected in the species. The neighbor-joining tree of haplotypes was assigned into two closely related clades, but did not appear to have any geographic genealogic structure. Hierarchical molecular variance analysis (AMOVA), pair wise FST comparisons and the nearest-neighbor statistic (Snn) showed no significant genetic differences among populations in the Bohai, Yellow and East China Seas. The demographic history of L. polyactis was examined by using neutrality tests and mismatch distribution analysis, which revealed that the species had undergone a Pleistocene population expansion. The results based on the complete mtDNA control region sequences analysis indicate that within its distribution range, L. polyactis constituted a panmictic mtDNA gene pool. Factors such as dispersal capacity, ocean currents and insufficient evolution time could be responsible for the lack of population genetic differentiation in L. polyactis.
Keywords: Larimichthys polyactis, mitochondrial control region, population genetic structure, demographic