Seascape genetics of a flatfish reveals local selection under high levels of gene flow

Eveline Diopere, Sara G. Vandamme, Pascal I. Habluetzel, Alessia Cariani, Jeroen van Houdt, A.D. Rijnsdorp, Fausto Tinti, Filip A.M. Volckaert*, Gregory E. Maes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Local adaptation is often found to be in a delicate balance with gene flow in marine species with high dispersal potential. Genotyping with mapped transcriptome-derived markers and advanced seascape statistical analyses are proven tools to uncover the genomic basis of biologically relevant traits under environmental selection. Using a panel of 426 gene-linked single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we scanned 17 samples (n¼539) of sole (Solea solea L.) from the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and applied a node-based seascape analysis. Neutral loci confirmed a clear distinction between the North Sea–Baltic Sea transition zone and the other Eastern Atlantic samples. At a more subtle level,
the latter unit split in an English Channel and North Sea group, and a Bay of Biscay and Atlantic Iberian coast group. A fourth group, the Irish and Celtic Sea, was identified with 19 outlier loci. A pattern of isolation by distance (IBD) characterized the latitudinal distribution. Seascape analyses identified winter seawater temperature, food availability and coastal currents to explain a significant component of geographically distributed genetic variation, suggesting that these factors act as drivers of local adaptation. The evidence for local adaptation is in line with the current understanding on the impact of two key ecological factors, the life-history trait winter mortality and the behaviour of inshore/offshore spawning. We conclude that the subtle differentiation between two metapopulations (North Sea and Bay of Biscay) mirrors local adaptation.
At least three genomic regions with strong population differentiation point to locally divergent selection. Further functional characterization of these genomic regions should help with formulating adaptive management policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-689
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number2
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • fish
  • isolation by distance
  • local adaptation
  • Northeast Atlantic Ocean
  • outlier locus
  • population genomics
  • SNP
  • sole


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