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Genetic response to eutrophication in three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus): A study of multiple Baltic Sea populations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Södertörns högskola.
Södertörns högskola.
University of Helsinki.
Södertörns högskola.
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(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Anthropogenic activities are causing change in natural habitats at an accelerating rate and affecting populations by altered selection pressures. One example is human-induced eutrophication in the Baltic Sea, were behaviour alterations are well documented in three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Here we have used 204 variable Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) markers to investigate genetic differences between a set of ten hierarchal sampled populations of sticklebacks, five populations inhabiting eutrophicated habitats and five from control populations, in total 292 individuals. We found significant genetic variation that could be attributed to habitat (4.3% AMOVA). A combination of FST outlier analysis and classification analysis revealed seven AFLP-loci likely to be affected by divergent selection by eutrophication. Four of these seven loci have earlier been identified as under selection in stickleback populations living in pulp-mill effluents suggesting some similar selective factors between eutrophication and pulp-mill effluent effected habitats. 

National Category
Genetics Evolutionary Biology Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Functional Zoomorphology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89481OAI: diva2:618266
Available from: 2013-04-26 Created: 2013-04-26 Last updated: 2013-04-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Genetic response to pollution in sticklebacks; natural selection in the wild
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Genetic response to pollution in sticklebacks; natural selection in the wild
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The last century, humans have been altering almost all natural environments at an accelerating rate, including the Baltic Sea that has highly eutrophicated areas and many coastal industries such as Pulp-mills. For animals living in a habitat that changes there are basically two alternatives, either to cope with the change or become locally extinct. This thesis aims to investigate if recent anthropogenic disturbance in the Baltic Sea can affect natural populations on a genetic level through natural selection.

First, we found a fine-scale genetic structure in three-spine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) populations along the Swedish coast (paper I), indicating limited gene-flow between populations in geographic proximity. Different genetic markers, specifically Amplified Fragment Lenght Polymorpism (AFLP, and microsatellites,  gave different results, highlighting the heterogeneous character of genomes which demonstrates that it is important to choose a genetic marker that is relevant for the question at hand. With a population genomic approach, and a multilocus genetic marker (AFLP), we detected convergent evolution in genotype composition in stickleback populations living in environments affected by pulp-mill effluent (paper II) and in highly eutrophicated environments (paper III), compared to adjacent reference populations. We found loci, in both studies (paper II, III), that were different from a neutral distribution and thus probably under divergent selection for the habitat differences investigated. The selective effect from pulp-mill effluents were more pronounced, but the two different habitats had mutual characters (AFLP loci). In paper IV, we converted five anonymous AFLP loci to sequenced markers and aligned them to the stickleback genome. Four out of five loci aligned within, or close to, coding regions on chromosome I, chromosome VIII, chromosome XIX and chromosome XX. One of the loci, located on chromosome VIII and identified as under divergent selection in both paper II and III, has been identified in other studies as to be under selection for fresh water adaptation, including Baltic Sea stickleback populations.

In conclusion, anthropogenic alterations of natural environments can have evolutionary consequences, probably adaptive, for the animals living there and the evolutionary response exhibited by natural populations can be very fast.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2013. 41 p.
Södertörn doctoral dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 79
Population genomics, genome scan, divergent selection, Gasterosteus aculeatus, Baltic Sea, pollution
National Category
Evolutionary Biology Genetics Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Functional Zoomorphology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89486 (URN)978-91-7447-702-3 (ISBN)978-91-86069-67-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-06-14, Ahlmansalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-05-16 Created: 2013-04-26 Last updated: 2013-05-03Bibliographically approved

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