External Organisations

  • Aarhus University, Denmark

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Anguillid eels, including European (Anguilla anguilla) and American eel (A. rostrata) have fascinated scientistsfor centuries. At the same time, their geographical distribution and life cyclemake them highly suitable study objects to address fundamental issues inevolutionary biology related to speciation and adaptation. 

In this project, wemade use of unique samples of eel larvae collected in the Sargasso Sea duringthe Galathea 3 expedition. Novel genomic resources generated by 454 massivelyparallel sequencing and novel statistical methods were used for 

- testing ifthe two species represent sympatric speciation.

- analysing the demographichistory of the species, comparing present declines to historical populationdeclines.

- testing whether or not European eel is panmictic, despitewidespread geographical distribution of adult eels in continental Europe andNorth Africa.

- testing whether the distribution of both species acrosssubarctic to subtropical environments reflects extreme phenotypic plasticity orif footprints of temperature-related selection is evident at the genomic level.

Scientific papers reporting results generated fromthis project include:

-   Pujolar, José Martin; Jacobsen, M.W.; Als, Thomas Damm; Frydenberg,Jane; Magnussen, E.; Jónsson, B.; Jiang, X.; Cheng, L.; Bekkevold, Dorte; Maes,G.E.; Bernatchez, L.; Hansen, Michael Møller. 2014. Assessing patterns ofhybridization between North Atlantic eels using diagnostic single-nucleotidepolymorphisms. Heredity, Vol. 112, 627-637.

-   Jacobsen, M.W.; Pujolar, J.M.; Gilbert, M.T.P.; Moreno-Mayar, J.V.;Bernatchez, L.; Als, Thomas Damm; Lobon-Cervia, J.; Hansen, Michael Møller.2014. Speciation and demographic history of Atlantic eels (Anguilla anguillaand A. rostrata) revealed by mitogenome sequencing. Heredity, Vol. 113,432-442.

-   Als, Thomas Damm; Hansen, Michael Møller; Maes, Gregory E.; Castonguay,Martin; Riemann, Lasse; Aarestrup, Kim; Munk, Peter; Sparholt, Henrik; Hanel,Reinhold; Bernatchez, Louis. 2011. All roads lead to home: panmixia of Europeaneel in the Sargasso Sea. Molecular Ecology, Vol. 20, 1333-1346.

-   Bernatchez, Louis; Saint-Cyr,Jérôme; Maes, Gregory E.; Kalujnaia, S.; Cramb, Gordon; Castonguay, Martin;Als, Thomas Damm; Hansen, Michael Møller. 2011. Differential timing of geneexpression regulation between leptocephali of North Atlantic eels in theSargasso Sea. Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 1, 459-467.

The project was coordinated by Department of Biological Sciences, Aarhus University.


  • Research area: Population Genetics
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