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Region‐wide and ecotype‐specific differences in demographic histories of threespine stickleback populations, estimated from whole genome sequences

Liu, Shenglin, Hansen, Michael M., Jacobsen, Magnus W.
Molecular ecology 2016 v.25 no.20 pp. 5187-5202
Gasterosteus aculeatus, ancestry, freshwater, freshwater fish, mitochondrial genome, parallel evolution, phylogeography, population growth, principal component analysis, single nucleotide polymorphism, Greenland, North America, Northern European region
We analysed 81 whole genome sequences of threespine sticklebacks from Pacific North America, Greenland and Northern Europe, representing 16 populations. Principal component analysis of nuclear SNPs grouped populations according to geographical location, with Pacific populations being more divergent from each other relative to European and Greenlandic populations. Analysis of mitogenome sequences showed Northern European populations to represent a single phylogeographical lineage, whereas Greenlandic and particularly Pacific populations showed admixture between lineages. We estimated demographic history using a genomewide coalescence with recombination approach. The Pacific populations showed gradual population expansion starting >100 Kya, possibly reflecting persistence in cryptic refuges near the present distributional range, although we do not rule out possible influence of ancient admixture. Sharp population declines ca. 14–15 Kya were suggested to reflect founding of freshwater populations by marine ancestors. In Greenland and Northern Europe, demographic expansion started ca. 20–25 Kya coinciding with the end of the Last Glacial Maximum. In both regions, marine and freshwater populations started to show different demographic trajectories ca. 8–9 Kya, suggesting that this was the time of recolonization. In Northern Europe, this estimate was surprisingly late, but found support in subfossil evidence for presence of several freshwater fish species but not sticklebacks 12 Kya. The results demonstrate distinctly different demographic histories across geographical regions with potential consequences for adaptive processes. They also provide empirical support for previous assumptions about freshwater populations being founded independently from large, coherent marine populations, a key element in the Transporter Hypothesis invoked to explain the widespread occurrence of parallel evolution across freshwater stickleback populations.