Relatively few studies have investigated the genetic population structure of sea anemones. This is particularly true for sea anemones that host some of the most iconic fishes on coral reefs, the anemonefishes. One of the main reasons for this knowledge gap is the lack of appropriate genetic markers. We developed and characterized a total of 47 novel polymorphic microsatellite markers for four host sea anemone species from the Indo-Pacific: Entacmaea quadricolor (n = 16 microsatellite markers), Heteractis magnifica (n = 8), Stichodactyla mertensii (n = 13), and Stichodactyla gigantea (n = 10). Here, we report genetic diversity statistics from two different sampling locations for each anemone species. Overall, we found that most markers were highly polymorphic. On average, we found a mean of seven alleles per locus. Observed and expected heterozygosities displayed high variation among loci, ranging from 0.033 to 0.980 and from 0.038 to 0.927, respectively. Only four loci showed deviations of Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium in both populations and were identified as having null alleles. Additionally, two pairs of loci were identified to be in linkage disequilibrium in only one population. Host anemones are highly sought after in the marine aquarium trade and are susceptible to thermal bleaching. Although most studies focus on their obligate symbionts (the anemonefish), genetic analyses of host sea anemones can expand our understanding of the biology, connectivity, and population structure of these organisms and potentially help develop conservation strategies that will aid both the host and its symbionts.
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