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Keywords:

  • conservation genetics;
  • genomics/proteomics;
  • inbreeding

Abstract

Conservation genetics is expanding its research horizon with a genomic approach, by incorporating the modern techniques of next-generation sequencing (NGS). Application of NGS overcomes many limitations of conservation genetics. First, NGS allows for genome-wide screening of markers, which may lead to a more representative estimation of genetic variation within and between populations. Second, NGS allows for distinction between neutral and non-neutral markers. By screening populations on thousands of single nucleotide polymorphism markers, signals of selection can be found for some markers. Variation in these markers will give insight into functional rather than neutral genetic variation. Third, NGS facilitates the study of gene expression. Conservation genomics will increase our insight in how the environment and genes interact to affect phenotype and fitness. In addition, the NGS approach opens a way to study processes such as inbreeding depression and local adaptation mechanistically. Conservation genetics programs are directed to a fundamental understanding of the processes involved in conservation genetics and should preferably be started in species for which large databases on ecology, demography and genetics are available. Here, we describe and illustrate the connection between the application of NGS technologies and the research questions in conservation. The perspectives of conservation genomics programs are also discussed.