Genetic mechanisms involved in the early speciation in European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus L.)

Hybridisation is a very important concept in evolutionary biology and acts by creating and collapsing the species boundaries. Hence they provide an excellent opportunity to investigate dynamics of reproductive isolation between species. Some of the lakes in northern Fennoscandia harbouring European whitefish morph pairs give excellent conditions to study the hybrids in natural populations. European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus L.) is a polymorphic species in Fennoscandia and commonly occurs as sympatric morph-pairs and are characterised by differences in morphology and number of gill rakers. In northern Fennoscandia lakes, the most frequent occurring morph-pairs are referred to as densely rakered whitefish morph (DR whitefish morph) and large sparsely rakered whitefish morph (LSR whitefish morph). These sympatric morph-pairs are also genetically isolated, repeatedly in different study lakes in northern Fennoscandia. The main aim of the current study is to understand the genomics and dynamics of two scenarios: hybridisation /introgression and divergence with gene flow in European whitefish morph-pairs with application of microsatellite and restriction-site-associated DNA sequencing (RAD) data. The objectives of the study include:

  1. Understanding the genomic signatures of the hybridisation /introgression and divergence with gene flow
  2. Elucidating consequence of hybridisation/introgression and divergence with gene-flow on the association of phenotype and genotype in wild populations of European whitefish

Contact person: Shripathi Bhat