Inter-oceanic genetic differentiation among albacore (Thunnus alalunga) populations
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- Viñas, J., Alvarado Bremer, J.R. & Pla, C. Marine Biology (2004) 145: 225. doi:10.1007/s00227-004-1319-5
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Albacore (Thunnus alalunga) is a highly migratory pelagic species distributed in all tropical and temperate oceans. Recent analyses using both mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA markers have demonstrated genetic subdivision within and between Atlantic and Pacific populations. However, although numerous biological differences have been reported for Atlantic and Mediterranean albacore, the genetic differentiation for these basins has not been demonstrated. We characterized 373 base pairs of nucleotide sequence from the mitochondrial DNA control region of 134 individuals collected in the Pacific (n=30), the northeast (NE) Atlantic (n=54) and the Mediterranean (n=50). Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed a small, but highly significant, proportion of genetic variation separating these three regions (Φst =0.041; P=0.009), a pattern also supported by pairwise comparisons. These results demonstrate for the first time the genetic distinctiveness of the Mediterranean albacore from the NE Atlantic population giving support to the current management practices based on separate units. This outcome is concordant with reported migratory movements related to reproductive behavior between the NE Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Additionally, the phylogenetic analyses of DNA sequences revealed the presence of a shallow genetic discontinuity with no geographic association. These two phylogroups are more likely the result of the demographic history of this species (i.e. long demographic stable history) as opposed to historical vicariance as has been proposed for other highly migratory fishes.