Genetic Diversity and Structure of the Nile Soft-Shelled Turtle (Trionyx triunguis) Along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey

Özgür Güçlü, Bülent Bozdoğan


The Nile soft-shelled turtle (Trionyx triunguis) is distributed between Dalyan and Samandağ throughout the Mediterranean coast in Turkey. The Mediterranean subpopulation of the Nile soft-shelled turtle is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List Categories. This investigation aimed to determinate levels of genetic variations and patterns of genetic structures among Mediterranean populations in Turkey by using T. triunguis-specific microsatellite primers. A total of 13 polymorphic microsatellite loci were studied among samples of 121 individuals collected from five populations in Turkey. Of 13 polymorphic microsatellite loci used, 3 new were identified in this study. The genetic differentiation among the 5 studied populations of T. triunguis was significant (p < 0.001). The analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) indicated that genetic variations occurred mainly within populations (89.7%) rather than among populations (10.3%). Structure analysis showed presence of two main groups among the Mediterranean T. triunguis populations. However genetic variations among populations were not correlated with geographic distance between the locations. Analysis of data showed that one of the populations (Dalyan) had undergone a bottleneck effect. Migration analysis indicates that T. triunguis migrates between five Mediterranean populations in Turkey. We concluded that based on our results the status of ‘critically endangered’ of T. triunguis should be maintained. Long term population genetic survey studies should be undertaken and changes in habitats of T. triunguis populations, as well as their population size and structure should be monitored for each population to be able to establish a clear strategy for protection of T. triunguis.


Mediterranean Basin; microsatellite; population structure; soft-shelled turtle; Trionyx triunguis

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