Identification of reproductively isolated lineages of Amur grayling (Thymallus grubii Dybowski 1869): concordance between phenotypic and genetic variation


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We analysed variation at maternally (mitochondrial DNA control region sequences) and bi-parentally (10 microsatellites) inherited genetic markers, as well as across 12 meristic characters in 7 populations of Amur grayling, Thymallus grubii, from eastern Siberia. All three data sets were concordant in supporting the existence of three diagnosable, reciprocally monophyletic, and most probably reproductively isolated, lineages of grayling within the Amur drainage. There was a significant correlation between genetic and phenotypic divergence, both within and among lineages. Two phenotypically distinct forms (with and without an orange spot on the posterior portion of the dorsal fin), found in sympatry in the lower Amur, most likely result from secondary contact, as they demonstrate 4.6% sequence divergence at the mitochondrial DNA control region. This divergence, together with the existence of at least one nearby population of orange spot grayling outside the Amur drainage (0.8% divergence) underscore the palaeo-hydrological complexity of the system, which presumably promoted genetic divergence in a shifting allopatric framework throughout the Pleistocene. Grayling from the upper Amur, corresponding to the type locality for the species, formed a sister group (1.4–1.6% divergent) to the orange spot lineage perhaps diverging in the early Pleistocene (1.4–1.6 Ma).