Morphotype is not linked to mitochondrial haplogroups of Caribbean acroporid hybrids

The Caribbean Acropora corals, A. palmata and A. cervicornis form a hybrid with two broad morphotypes, bushy and palmate. These morphotypes were previously hypothesized to be linked to the hybrid’s maternal species. Here, we expand on this hypothesis by adding samples from across the range and by increasing genetic resolution. We reconstructed complete mitochondrial genomes as a proxy for maternal species. This yielded novel A. palmata haplogroups, only one of which was shared by all three taxa. Experts then evaluated photographs to classify corals to a taxon based on colony morphology. Expert classification revealed less accuracy and confidence in hybrid, and surprisingly A. palmata identification compared to A. cervicornis. No association between the bushy morph and mitochondrial haplogroups was found when mapping hybrid morphotypes to the mitogenome phylogeny. Therefore, mitochondrial haplogroup membership is not predictive of Caribbean acroporid hybrid morphology across the range. Additional work is needed to uncover determinants of colony morphology.

This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:



Work Title Morphotype is not linked to mitochondrial haplogroups of Caribbean acroporid hybrids
Open Access
  1. Sheila A. Kitchen
  2. C. Cornelia Osborne
  3. Nicole D. Fogarty
  4. Iliana B. Baums
  1. Mitochondrial genomes
  2. Morphology
  3. Field identification
  4. Acroporids
  5. Coral
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Coral Reefs
Publication Date June 25, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited February 17, 2023




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Kitchen_Mito_Genome_Note_20210521_AcceptedVersion.docx
  • Added Electronic_Supplementary_Material_1_AcceptedVersion.docx
  • Added Creator Sheila A. Kitchen
  • Added Creator C. Cornelia Osborne
  • Added Creator Nicole D. Fogarty
  • Added Creator Iliana B. Baums
  • Published
  • Updated Keyword, Publication Date Show Changes
    • Mitochondrial genomes, Morphology, Field identification, Acroporids, Coral
    Publication Date
    • 2022-06-01
    • 2021-06-25
  • Updated

Version 2

  • Created
  • Added Fig1_CR_network.pdf
  • Added Fig2_MitoGenomes_morphotype.pdf
  • Added Fig3_photos_v2.pdf
  • Published
  • Updated