Detection of molecular signatures of selection at microsatellite loci in the South African abalone (Haliotis midae) using a population genomic approach

Clint Rhode*, Jessica Vervalle, Aletta E. Bester-van der Merwe, Rouvay Roodt-Wilding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Identifying genomic regions that may be under selection is important for elucidating the genetic architecture of complex phenotypes underlying adaptation to heterogeneous environments. A population genomic approach, using a classical neutrality test and various Fst-outlier detection methods was employed to evaluate genome-wide polymorphism data in order to identify loci that may be candidates for selection amongst six populations (three cultured and three wild) of the South African abalone, Haliotis midae. Approximately 9% of the genome-wide microsatellite markers were putatively subject to directional selection, whilst 6-18% of the genome is thought to be influenced by balancing selection. Genetic diversity estimates for candidate loci under directional selection was significantly reduced in comparison to candidate neutral loci, whilst candidate balancing selection loci demonstrated significantly higher levels of genetic diversity (Kruskal-Wallis test, P<0.05). Pairwise Fst estimates based on candidate directional selection loci also demonstrated increased levels of differentiation between study populations. Various candidate loci under selection showed significant inter-chromosomal linkage disequilibrium, suggesting possible gene-networks underling adaptive phenotypes. Furthermore, several loci had significant hits to known genes when performing BLAST searches to NCBI's non-redundant databases, whilst others are known to be derived from expressed sequences even though homology to a known gene could not be established. A number of loci also demonstrated relatively high similarity to transposable elements. The association of these loci to functional and genomically active sequences could in part explain the observed signatures of selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
JournalMarine Genomics
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • F-outlier
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Neutrality
  • Population genomics
  • Selection

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