Genetic and genomic approaches to the study of Atlantic eels: Speciation, genetic population structure and footprints of selection (38875)

  • Als, Thomas Damm (Project Manager)
  • Bekkevold, Dorte (Project Participant)
  • Mensberg, Karen-Lise Dons (Project Participant)

Project Details


Anguillid eels, including European (Anguilla anguilla) and American eel (A. rostrata) have fascinated scientists for centuries. At the same time, their geographical distribution and life cycle make them highly suitable study objects to address fundamental issues in evolutionary biology related to speciation and adaptation. 
In this project, we made use of unique samples of eel larvae collected in the Sargasso Sea during the Galathea 3 expedition. 
Novel genomic resources generated by 454 massively parallel sequencing and novel statistical methods were used for 
- testing if the two species represent sympatric speciation.
- analysing the demographic history of the species, comparing present declines to historical population declines.
- testing whether or not European eel is panmictic, despite widespread geographical distribution of adult eels in continental Europe and North Africa.
- testing whether the distribution of both species across subarctic to subtropical environments reflects extreme phenotypic plasticity or if footprints of temperature-related selection is evident at the genomic level.
Scientific papers reporting results generated from this project include:
-   Pujolar, J.M.; Jacobsen, M.W.; Als, T.D.; Frydenberg, J.; Magnussen, E.; Jónsson, B.; Jiang, X.; Cheng, L.; Bekkevold, D.; Maes,G.E.; Bernatchez, L.; Hansen, M.M. 2014. Assessing patterns of hybridization between North Atlantic eels using diagnostic single-nucleotide polymorphisms. 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, M.M. 2014. Speciation and demographic history of Atlantic eels (Anguilla anguilla and A. rostrata) revealed by mitogenome sequencing. Heredity, Vol. 113,432-442.
-   Als, T.D.; Hansen, M.M.; Maes, G.E.; Castonguay, M.; Riemann, L.; Aarestrup, K.; Munk, P.; Sparholt, H.; Hanel, R.; Bernatchez, L. 2011. All roads lead to home: panmixia of Europeaneel in the Sargasso Sea. Molecular Ecology, Vol. 20, 1333-1346.
-   Bernatchez, L.; Saint-Cyr, J.; Maes, G.E.; Kalujnaia, S.; Cramb, G.; Castonguay, M.; Als, T.D.; Hansen, M.M. 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 and funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research.
Research area: Population Genetics
Effective start/end date01/01/201031/12/2012


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