Signatures of Selection and Genomic Diversity of Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) from Two Populations in North America

Josue Chinchilla-Vargas*, Jonathan R. Meerbeek, Max F. Rothschild, Francesca Bertolini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) is the largest and most prized game fish in North America. However, little is known about Muskellunge genetic diversity in Iowa's propagation program. We used Whole-Genome Sequencing of 12 brooding individuals from Iowa and publicly available RAD-seq of 625 individuals from the St. Lawrence River in Canada to study the genetic differences between populations, analyze signatures of selection, and evaluate the levels of genetic diversity in both populations. Given that there is no reference genome available, reads were aligned to the genome of Pike (Esox lucius). Variant calling produced 7,886,471 biallelic variants for the Iowa population and 16,867 high-quality SNPs that overlap with the Canadian samples. Principal component analysis (PCA) and Admixture analyses showed a large genetic difference between Canadian and Iowan populations. Window-based pooled heterozygosity found 6 highly heterozygous windows in the Iowa population and Fst between populations found 14 windows with fixation statistic (Fst) values larger than 0.9. Canadian inbreeding rate (Froh = 0.32) appears to be higher due to the inbreeding of Iowa population (Froh = 0.03), presumably due to isolation of subpopulations. Although inbreeding does not seem to be an immediate concern for Muskellunge in Iowa, the Canadian population seems to have a high rate of inbreeding. Finally, this approach can be used to assess the long-term viability of the current management practices of Muskellunge populations across North America.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1021
Issue number7
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Whole genome sequencing
  • Muskellunge
  • Population genomics
  • Fisheries
  • Inbreeding


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