• adaptation;
  • conservation genetics;
  • ecological genetics;
  • fish;
  • transcriptomics

An important task within conservation genetics consists in defining intraspecific conservation units. Most conceptual frameworks involve two steps: (i) identifying demographically independent units, and (ii) evaluating their degree of adaptive divergence. Whereas a plethora of methods are available for delineating genetic population structure, assessment of functional genetic divergence remains a challenge. In this issue, Tymchuk et al. (2010) study Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations using both microsatellite markers and analysis of global gene expression. They show that important gene expression differences exist that can be interpreted in the context of different ecological conditions experienced by the populations, along with the populations’ histories. This demonstrates an important potential role of transcriptomics for designating conservation units.