Footprints of Natural Selection in North Atlantic Eels: A Review

José Martin Pujolar*, Francesca Bertolini, Magnus W. Jacobsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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The study of natural selection and local adaptation is a thriving field of research. Local adaptation is driven by environment components and results in locally adapted phenotypes with higher fitness relative to other phenotypes from other locations in the species range. Tests of local adaptations have traditionally been done using transplant experiments, but the advent of next-generation sequencing methods have allowed the study of local adaptation to move from a phenotypic to a genomic approach. By using genome scans and state-of-the-art statistical tests, researchers can identify genes putatively under selection and study the genomic architecture of local adaptation, which often includes the observation of clustering of adaptive genes concentrated in fewer genomic regions known as “genomic islands of divergence”. The two species of North Atlantic eels, the European and the American eel, are excellent species for studying selection since they are panmictic and present large population sizes, show a wide distribution range across extremely heterogenous environments, and are subject to high mortalities. We reviewed studies of natural selection and local adaptation in American eel, European eel, between life cycle stages, between European and American eel. Finally, we discussed genome architecture in relation to local adaptation in eels and the role of both genetic (i.e., local adaptation) and non-genetic (i.e., phenotypic plasticity) in the survival of eels across their distribution range
Original languageEnglish
Article number311
Issue number6
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Local adaption
  • Anguilla
  • European eel
  • American eel
  • Genomic islands of divergence


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