Searching for speciation genes: Molecular evidence for selection

Closely related species that show clear phenotypic divergence, but without obvious geographic barriers, can provide opportunities to study how diversification can occur when opportunities for allopatric speciation are limited. We examined genetic divergence in the coral reef fish genus Hypoplectrus (family: Serranidae), which comprises of 1014 morphotypes that are distinguished solely by their distinct colour patterns, but which show little genetic differentiation. Our goal was to detect loci that show clear disequilibrium between morphotypes and across geographical locations. We conducted Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism molecular analysis to quantify genetic differentiation among, and selection between, morphotypes. Three loci were consistently divergent beyond neutral expectations in repeated pair-wise morphotype comparisons using two different methods. These loci provide the first evidence for genes that may be associated with colour morphotype in the genus Hypoplectrus.