Evidence of neutral and adaptive genetic divergence between European trout populations sampled along altitudinal gradients

Authors

  • I. KELLER,

    1. Department of Fish Ecology and Evolution, EAWAG Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Center of Ecology, Evolution and Biochemistry, Seestrasse 79, CH-6047 Kastanienbaum, Switzerland
    2. Department of Aquatic Ecology, EAWAG Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 133, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
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  • A. TAVERNA,

    1. Department of Fish Ecology and Evolution, EAWAG Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Center of Ecology, Evolution and Biochemistry, Seestrasse 79, CH-6047 Kastanienbaum, Switzerland
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  • O. SEEHAUSEN

    1. Department of Fish Ecology and Evolution, EAWAG Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Center of Ecology, Evolution and Biochemistry, Seestrasse 79, CH-6047 Kastanienbaum, Switzerland
    2. Department of Aquatic Ecology and Macroevolution, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 6, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
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Irene Keller, Fax: +41 44 823 5028; E-mail: irene.keller@eawag.ch

Abstract

Species with a wide geographical distribution are often composed of distinct subgroups which may be adapted to their local environment. European trout (Salmo trutta species complex) provide an example of such a complex consisting of several genetically and ecologically distinct forms. However, trout populations are strongly influenced by human activities, and it is unclear to what extent neutral and adaptive genetic differences have persisted. We sampled 30 Swiss trout populations from heterogeneous environments along replicated altitudinal gradients in three major European drainages. More than 850 individuals were genotyped at 18 microsatellite loci which included loci diagnostic for evolutionary lineages and candidate markers associated with temperature tolerance, reproductive timing and immune defence. We find that the phylogeographic structure of Swiss trout populations has not been completely erased by stocking. Distinct genetic clusters corresponding to the different drainages could be identified, although nonindigenous alleles were clearly present, especially in the two Mediterranean drainages. We also still detected neutral genetic differentiation within rivers which was often associated with the geographical distance between populations. Five loci showed evidence of divergent selection between populations with several drainage-specific patterns. Lineage-diagnostic markers, a marker linked to a quantitative trait locus for upper temperature tolerance in other salmonids and a marker linked to the major histocompatibility class I gene were implicated in local adaptation and some patterns were associated with altitude. In contrast, tentative evidence suggests a signal of balancing selection at a second immune relevant gene (TAP2). Our results confirm the persistence of both neutral and potentially adaptive genetic differences between trout populations in the face of massive human-mediated dispersal.

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