Yeserin Yildirim

Doctor of Philosophy
Study Completed: 2016
College of Sciences

Citation

Thesis Title
Genetics Structure of Pleurobranchaea maculata in New Zealand

The grey side-gilled sea slug (Pleurobranchaea maculata), which is native to the western and south Pacific, is known to contain high concentrations of tetrodotoxin (TTX) a potent neurotoxin. Ms Yildirim’s research examined the population structure and demographic history of populations from different regions in New Zealand to clarify whether there is a correlation between variability in TTX concentrations and genetic structure. She developed microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA markers to perform population genetic analysis providing significant initial insights into the population structure of this not very well-known species. She found that New Zealand populations were once more connected, but have become more geographically and genetically isolated perhaps due to migration events facilitated by a population expansion dating back to the Pleistocene era. Her data showed significant differentiation between North and South Island populations with population structure correlating with regional variations in TTX concentrations. She attributed the correlation to environmental factors.

Supervisors
Distinguished Professor Paul Rainey
Professor Nigel French
Professor Marti Anderson
Dr Craig Millar

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