Genomic insights on conservation priorities for North Sea houting and European lake whitefish (Coregonus spp.)

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

  • Aja Noersgaard Buur Tengstedt
  • Shenglin Liu
  • Magnus W. Jacobsen
  • Camilla Gundlund
  • Møller, Peter Rask
  • Søren Berg
  • Dorte Bekkevold
  • Michael M. Hansen

Population genomics analysis holds great potential for informing conservation of endangered populations. We focused on a controversial case of European whitefish (Coregonus spp.) populations. The endangered North Sea houting is the only coregonid fish that tolerates oceanic salinities and was previously considered a species (C. oxyrhinchus) distinct from European lake whitefish (C. lavaretus). However, no firm evidence for genetic-based salinity adaptation has been available. Also, studies based on microsatellite and mitogenome data suggested surprisingly recent divergence (c. 2500 years bp) between houting and lake whitefish. These data types furthermore have provided no evidence for possible inbreeding. Finally, a controversial taxonomic revision recently classified all whitefish in the region as C. maraena, calling conservation priorities of houting into question. We used whole-genome and ddRAD sequencing to analyse six lake whitefish populations and the only extant indigenous houting population. Demographic inference indicated post-glacial expansion and divergence between lake whitefish and houting occurring not long after the Last Glaciation, implying deeper population histories than previous analyses. Runs of homozygosity analysis suggested not only high inbreeding (FROH up to 30.6%) in some freshwater populations but also FROH up to 10.6% in the houting prompting conservation concerns. Finally, outlier scans provided evidence for adaptation to high salinities in the houting. Applying a framework for defining conservation units based on current and historical reproductive isolation and adaptive divergence led us to recommend that the houting be treated as a separate conservation unit regardless of species status. In total, the results underscore the potential of genomics to inform conservation practices, in this case clarifying conservation units and highlighting populations of concern.

TidsskriftMolecular Ecology
Antal sider21
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 30 apr. 2024

Bibliografisk note

© 2024 The Authors. Molecular Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

ID: 391306705