The genetics and genomics of marine fish invasions: a global review

  • Stefania ChiesaEmail author
  • Ernesto Azzurro
  • Giacomo Bernardi


We present a comprehensive review of the available global literature on the genetics and genomics of marine fish invasions. Overall this review provides data from 66 species belonging to 39 families, collected from 80 published studies on both WoS (Web of Science) and Scopus databases. We found that studies on alien fishes focused on specific geographic areas, mainly the Mediterranean region. Furthermore, most studies restricted their approach to describe patterns of cryptic diversity and/or the development of novel markers, whilst the genetic structure of introduced populations and the genetic mechanisms driving the invasion processes were mostly neglected. The majority of studies on marine fishes reveal similar genetic diversity levels in both native and introduced ranges, suggesting massive or multiple introductions. Indeed, cases of introduced populations showing evidence of bottlenecks were rare. Genetic arrangements are not explained by taxonomic group or reproductive strategy but recent studies reveal rapid evolutionary changes associated with invasive lineages, opening new grounds to investigate mechanisms of adaptation in the natural environment. Finally, the potential of marine fish invasions as a model to test evolutionary responses to rapid environmental changes is further discussed.

Graphic abstract


Alien species Biological invasions Marine fishes Genetics Genomics 



The Authors would like to thank the two referees who revised the manuscript, the Editor in chief Prof. Jan Strugnell and the assigned Editor Prof. Stefano Mariani for their useful suggestions to improve the paper. We also thank a professional mother tongue who provided the English revision.

Supplementary material

11160_2019_9586_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (178 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 178 kb)


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Protection and ResearchISPRARomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Molecular Sciences and NanosystemsCa’ Foscari University of VeniceMestre VeniceItaly
  3. 3.Department of SciencesUniversity of “Roma Tre”RomeItaly
  4. 4.CNR-IRBIM, National Research Council, Institute of Biological Resources and Marine BiotechnologiesAnconaItaly
  5. 5.Zoological Station A. DohrnNaplesItaly
  6. 6.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of California Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA

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