Comparison of sequence-capture and ddRAD approaches in resolving species and populations in hexacorallian anthozoans

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2021 Oct;163:107233. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2021.107233. Epub 2021 Jun 15.


Genome-level sequencing is the next step in understanding species-level relationships within Anthozoa (soft corals, anemones, stony corals, and their kin) as morphological and PCR-directed (single-locus) sequencing methods often fall short of differentiating species. The sea anemone genus Metridium is a common northern temperate sea anemone whose species are difficult to differentiate using morphology alone. Here we use Metridium as a case study to confirm the low level of information available in six loci for species differentiation commonly sequenced for Actiniaria and explore and compare the efficacy of ddRAD and sequence-capture methods in species-level systematics and biogeographic studies. We produce phylogenetic trees from concatenated datasets and perform DAPC and STRUCTURE analyses using SNP data. The six conventional loci are not able to consistently differentiate species within Metridium. The sequence-capture dataset resulted in high support and resolution for both current species and relationships between geographic areas. The ddRAD datasets displayed ambiguity among species, and support between major geographic groupings was not as high as the sequence-capture datasets. The level of resolution and support resulting from the sequence-capture data, combined with the ability to add additional individuals and expand beyond the genus Metridium over time, emphasizes the utility of sequence-capture methods for both systematics and future biogeographic studies within anthozoans. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the genomic approaches in light of our findings and suggest potential implications for the biogeography of Metridium based on our sampling.

Keywords: Actiniaria; Anthozoa; Marine biogeography; Sea anemone; Sequence-capture; ddRAD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa* / genetics
  • Genome
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny
  • Sea Anemones* / genetics