Although two species of the fire coral Millepora are recognized in the tropical western Atlantic, colonies of this hydrozoan exhibit extensive variation in their morphologies. The purpose of this study is to determine whether selected colony morphotypes are matched by genetic isolation. Colonies of the two described species of Millepora found in the Bahamas, M. alcicornis and M. complanata, representing a variety of growth forms were collected from several sites at varying depths along the coast of San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Morphological analysis, which is currently ongoing, followed that described in the taxonomic literature. Measurements included colony form, density and diameters of gastropores and dactylopores, presence or absence of ampullae, and surface texture. DNA fingerprint analysis of the specimens was carried out using RAPD. Preliminary results suggest two different DNA signatures, however, some of the samples collected exhibit DNA fingerprints representative of both of these two signatures. The genetic data require larger sample sizes and await comparative results of ongoing morphological analysis.
Jill Leonard, ’03 Blue Grass, IA
Majors: Geology and Environmental Studies
Sponsor: Benjamin Greenstein