Scientia Marina, Vol 76, No 1 (2012)

Evidence for microsatellite hitchhiking selection in European sardine (Sardina pilchardus) and implications in inferring stock structure

Panagiotis Kasapidis
Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Institute of Marine Biology and Genetics , Greece

Alexandra Silva
Instituto de Investigação das Pescas e do Mar (INRB-IPIMAR) , Italy

Gianpaolo Zampicinini
Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Institute of Marine Biology and Genetics - Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell’Uomo, Universita di Torino , Italy

Antonios Magoulas
Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Institute of Marine Biology and Genetics , Greece


The genetic structure of the European sardine (Sardina pilchardus) was assessed throughout its geographic range using five microsatellite loci. One of the loci seemed to be under hitchhiking selection and exhibited a latitudinal cline along the eastern Atlantic, with abrupt change in allele frequencies from the Alboran Sea to the western Mediterranean and from the east Atlantic coast to the Azores and Madeira. This pattern was very similar to that previously described for the allozymic locus SOD* and these 2 loci could be linked. A Bayesian analysis of environmental factors with the genetic data indicated temperature as a potential selection factor. Selection pressure may be stronger at the southern limit of sardine distribution, because heterozygosity of the non-neutral locus was much lower there. The abrupt change in allele frequencies of the non-neutral locus in certain regions seem to be related more to strong barriers to gene flow, which were not evident for neutral loci, than to abrupt changes in selection pressure. These areas of discontinuity provide a guideline to define and delineate genetic stocks and are generally consistent with areas of phenotypic change in sardine, but they are not in concordance with the currently recognized morphological subspecies.


sardine; genetic structure; microsatellite DNA; selection; Atlantic; Mediterranean

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