Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) mitogenomics: A cautionary tale of defining sub-species from mitochondrial sequence monophyly

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2019Researchpeer-review

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  • Author: Cabrera, Andrea A.

    University of Groningen, Netherlands

  • Author: Hoekendijk, Jeroen P. A.

    University of Groningen, Netherlands

  • Author: Aguilar, Alex

    University of Barcelona, Spain

  • Author: Barco, Susan G.

    Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center Foundation, United States

  • Author: Berrow, Simon

    Galway - Mayo Institute of Technology, Ireland

  • Author: Bloch, Dorete

    Museum of National History, Faroe Islands

  • Author: Borrell, Asunción

    University of Barcelona, Spain

  • Author: Cunha, Haydée A.

    Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Author: Dalla Rosa, Luciano

    Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Author: Dias, Carolina P.

    Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Author: Gauffier, Pauline

    Conservation, Information and Research on Cetaceans, Spain

  • Author: Hao, Wensi

    University of Groningen, Netherlands

  • Author: Landry, Scott

    Center for Coastal Studies, United States

  • Author: Larsen, Finn

    Greenland Institute of Natural Resources

    Section for Ecosystem based Marine Management, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Kemitorvet, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Martín, Vidal

    Society for Study of Cetaceans in the Canary Archipelago, Spain

  • Author: Mizroch, Sally

    NOAA, United States

  • Author: Oosting, Tom

    University of Groningen, Netherlands

  • Author: Øien, Nils

    Institute of Marine Research, Norway

  • Author: Pampoulie, Christophe

    Marine Research Institute Reykjavik, Iceland

  • Author: Panigada, Simone

    Tethys Research Institute, Italy

  • Author: Prieto, Rui

    University of the Azores, Portugal

  • Author: Ramp, Christian

    Mingan Island Cetacean Study Inc., Canada

  • Author: Rivera-Léon, Vania E.

    University of Groningen, Netherlands

  • Author: Robbins, Jooke

    Center for Coastal Studies, United States

  • Author: Ryan, Conor

    Galway - Mayo Institute of Technology, Ireland

  • Author: Schall, Elena

    University of Groningen, Netherlands

  • Author: Sears, Richard

    Mingan Island Cetacean Study Inc., Canada

  • Author: Silva, Mónica A.

    University of the Azores, Portugal

  • Author: Urbán, Jorge

    Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Mexico

  • Author: Wenzel, Frederick W.

    NOAA, United States

  • Author: Palsbøll, Per J.

    University of Groningen, Netherlands

  • Author: Berube, Martine

    University of Groningen, Netherlands

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The advent of massive parallel sequencing technologies has resulted in an increase of studies based upon complete mitochondrial genome DNA sequences that revisit the taxonomic status within and among species. Spatially distinct monophyly in such mitogenomic genealogies, i.e., the sharing of a recent common ancestor among con-specific samples collected in the same region has been viewed as evidence for subspecies. Several recent studies in cetaceans have employed this criterion to suggest subsequent intraspecific taxonomic revisions. We reason that employing intra-specific, spatially distinct monophyly at non-recombining, clonally inherited genomes is an unsatisfactory criterion for defining subspecies based upon theoretical (genetic drift) and practical (sampling effort) arguments. This point was illustrated by a re-analysis of a global mitogenomic assessment of fin whales, Balaenoptera physalus spp., published by Archer et al. (2013), which proposed to further subdivide the Northern Hemisphere fin whale subspecies, B. p. physalus. The proposed revision was based upon the detection of spatially distinct monophyly among North Atlantic and North Pacific fin whales in a genealogy based upon complete mitochondrial genome DNA sequences. The extended analysis conducted in this study (1,676 mitochondrial control region, 162 complete mitochondrial genome DNA sequences and 20 microsatellite loci genotyped in 358 samples) revealed that the apparent monophyly among North Atlantic fin whales reported by Archer et al. (2013) to be due to low sample sizes. In conclusion, defining sub-species from monophyly (i.e., the absence of para- or polyphyly) can lead to erroneous conclusions due to relatively "trivial" aspects, such as sampling. Basic population genetic processes (i.e., genetic drift and migration) also affect the time to the most recent common ancestor and hence the probability that individuals in a sample are monophyletic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Volume135
Pages (from-to)86-97
ISSN1055-7903
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

    Research areas

  • Balaenoptera physalus, North Atlantic Ocean, fin whale, mitochondrial genome, subspecies
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