Genetic Divergence between Freshwater and Marine Morphs of Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus): A ‘Next-Generation’ Sequencing Analysis
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Alewife Alosa pseudoharengus, a small clupeid fish native to Atlantic Ocean, has recently (,150 years ago) invaded the North American Great Lakes and despite challenges of freshwater environment its populations exploded and disrupted local food web structures. This range expansion has been accompanied by dramatic changes at all levels of organization. Growth rates, size at maturation, or fecundity are only a few of the most distinct morphological and life history traits that contrast the two alewife morphs. A question arises to what extent these rapidly evolving differences between marine and freshwater varieties result from regulatory (including phenotypic plasticity) or structural mutations. To gain insights into expression changes and sequence divergence between marine and freshwater alewives, we sequenced transcriptomes of individuals from Lake Michigan and Atlantic Ocean. Population specific single nucleotide polymorphisms were rare but interestingly occurred in sequences of genes that also tended to show large differences in expression. Our results show that the striking phenotypic divergence between anadromous and lake alewives can be attributed to massive regulatory modifications rather than coding changes.
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