Population genomic evidence for adaptive differentiation in the Baltic Sea herring.Mol Ecol. 2016 Jun; 25(12):2833-52.ME
Detecting and estimating the degree of genetic differentiation among populations of highly mobile marine fish having pelagic larval stages is challenging because their effective population sizes can be large, and thus, little genetic drift and differentiation is expected in neutral genomic sites. However, genomic sites subject to directional selection stemming from variation in local environmental conditions can still show substantial genetic differentiation, yet these signatures can be hard to detect with low-throughput approaches. Using a pooled RAD-seq approach, we investigated genomewide patterns of genetic variability and differentiation within and among 20 populations of Atlantic herring in the Baltic Sea (and adjacent Atlantic sites), where previous low-throughput studies and/or studies based on few populations have found limited evidence for genetic differentiation. Stringent quality control was applied in the filtering of 1 791 254 SNPs, resulting in a final data set of 68 182 polymorphic loci. Clear differentiation was identified between Atlantic and Baltic populations in many genomic sites, while differentiation within the Baltic Sea area was weaker and geographically less structured. However, outlier analyses - whether including all populations or only those within the Baltic Sea - uncovered hundreds of directionally selected loci in which variability was associated with either salinity, temperature or both. Hence, our results support the view that although the degree of genetic differentiation among Baltic Sea herring populations is low, there are many genomic regions showing elevated divergence, apparently as a response to temperature- and salinity-related natural selection. As such, the results add to the increasing evidence of local adaptation in highly mobile marine organisms, and those in the young Baltic Sea in particular.