Investigating the extent of parallelism in morphological and genomic divergence among lake trout ecotypes in Lake Superior
Understanding the emergence of species through the process of ecological speciation is a central question in evolutionary biology which also has implications for conservation and management. Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) is renowned for the occurrence of different ecotypes linked to resource and habitat use throughout North America. We aimed to unravel the fine genetic structure of the four lake trout ecotypes in Lake Superior. A total of 486 individuals from four sites were genotyped at 6822 filtered SNPs using RADseq technology. Our results revealed different extent of morphological and genetic differentiation within the different sites. Overall, genetic differentiation was weak but significant and was on average three times higher between sites (mean F ST = 0.016) than between ecotypes within sites (mean F ST = 0.005) indicating higher level of gene flow or a more recent shared ancestor between ecotypes within each site than between populations of the same ecotype. Evidence of divergent selection was also found between ecotypes and/or in association with morphological variation. Outlier loci found in genes related to lipid metabolism and visual acuity were of particular interest in this context of ecotypic divergence. However, we did not find clear indication of parallelism at the genomic level, despite the presence of phenotypic parallelism among some ecotypes from different sampling sites. Overall, the occurrence of different levels of both genomic and phenotypic differentiation between ecotypes within each site with several differentiated loci linked to relevant biological functions supports the presence of a continuum of divergence in lake trout.
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