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Historical introgression and the role of selective vs. neutral processes in structuring nuclear genetic variation (AFLP) in a circumpolar marine fish, the capelin (Mallotus villosus)


Gabriel J. Colbeck, Fax: 418 656 2043; E-mail:


The capelin (Mallotus villosus) is a widespread marine fish species for which previous work has identified geographically distinct mtDNA clades, the frontiers of which are well within adult and larval dispersal capabilities. Here, we use AFLPs to test for the presence of nuclear gene flow among clades. In addition, we evaluate genetic structuring within one clade, the Northwest Atlantic (NWA). We found that each of the mtDNA clades corresponds with a unique nuclear DNA genetic cluster. Within the NWA clade, we detected individuals with small but significant amounts of genetic ancestry from other clades, likely due to historical introgression. Further support for historical introgression comes from analyses of variance in locus-specific differentiation, which support introgression between some clades and divergence without gene flow between others. Within the NWA, we identified two genetic clusters that correspond to sites in geographically adjacent areas. However, these clusters differ primarily at ‘outlier’ loci, and a genetic subdivision (K = 2) was not supported by genetic clustering programs using neutral loci. Significant neutral FST differentiation was found only between sites that otherwise differed at outlier loci. Thus, these populations may be in the initial stages of ‘isolation by adaptation’. These results suggest strong between-clade reproductive isolation despite opportunities for gene flow and support the hypothesis that selection can contribute to divergence in otherwise ‘open’ systems.