Mitochondrial DNA sequence variation in whiting Merlangius merlangus in the North East Atlantic
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Genetic variation in whiting Merlangius merlangus was examined using a 621 base pair fragment of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I mitochondrial gene in 138 individuals sampled from Iceland, Norway and the North Sea. In total 10 segregating sites were observed defining 12 haplotypes. Three of the haplotypes were found at high frequencies (>5 %). All but one mutations were synonymous and the nonsynonymous mutation was found as a singleton. This suggests weak or no natural selection acting on the observed polymorphism making it useful for examination of population breeding structure. The genetic variation suggests that the whiting population has undergone sudden expansion in the past, estimated to have started 70 Kyr ago, during the last glacial period. Spatial genetic analysis reveals genetic uniformity across long geographic distances suggesting high level of gene flow. The long pelagic phase at early age, allowing for high dispersal rate, may partly explain the observed pattern.
KeywordsmtDNA COI Demography Gene flow
We are grateful to Kristján Kristinsson at Icelandic Marine Research Institute (MRI), Remment ter Hofstede at Institute forMarine Resources and Ecosystem Studies (IMARES) in the Netherlands and Jarle Mork at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, for assisting in providing samples for the present project. We are thankful to Snæbjörn Pálsson for useful discussions during this work and members of the population genetics laboratory at the University of Iceland for help with molecular analysis during the work. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments on the paper.
This project was supported by the Icelandic research fund, the Icelandic research fund for graduate students of The Icelandic Centre for Research and the Icelandic Marine Research Institute.
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