Population bottlenecks: influence on mitochondrial DNA diversity and its effect in coregonine stock discrimination



This study was designed to test the hypothesis that anadromous populations of North American whitefish, Coregonus clupeaformis (Mitchill), believed to have suffered more intense population bottlenecks during past glaciation events, should reveal less mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variability and population-genetic structuring than anadromous populations of European whitefish, C. lavaretus (L.). C. clupeaformis exhibited extremely low levels of diversity and population structuring, in terms of number and frequency of clonal lines as well as sequence divergence estimates, as compared with populations of C. lavaretus. These results support the hypothesis that the severity of population bottlenecks related to Pleistocene glaciation events may be largely responsible for the level of mtDNA variability observed. This in turn influences the sampling strategy required to maximize the usefulness of mtDNA analysis in stock discrimination.