Conservation Genetics

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 467–475 | Cite as

Lack of spatial and temporal genetic structure of Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) populations

  • Xiaoling Gong
  • Emily R. Davenport
  • Dehai Wang
  • Andrew G. ClarkEmail author
Research Article


Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) is an important food source in East Asia whose population has dramatically declined since the 1970s. Despite past analysis with DNA sequencing, microsatellite and isozyme methods, management decisions remain hampered by contradictory findings. For example, it remains unresolved whether Japanese eels are a single panmictic population or whether they harbor significant substructure. Accurate assessment of population genetic substructure, both spatial and temporal, is essential for determining the relevant number of distinct management units appropriate for this species. In the present study, we assayed genetic variation genome-wide using Restriction Site Associated DNA Sequencing (RAD-seq) technology to analyze the population genetic structure of Japanese eels. For analysis of temporal isolation, five “cohort” samples were collected yearly from 2005 to 2009 in the Yangtze River Estuary. For analysis of spatial structure, five “arrival wave” samples were collected in China in 2009, and two arrival wave samples were collected in Japan in 2001. In each cohort of each arrival wave, five individuals were collected for a total of 55 eels sampled. In total, 214,210 loci were identified from these individuals, 106,652 of which satisfied quality checks and were retained for further analysis. There was relatively little population differentiation between arrival waves and cohorts collected either at different locations during the same year (Fst = 0.077) or at the same location collected over subsequent years (Fst = 0.082), and locations displayed no consistent isolation-by-distance.


Anguilla japonica Japanese eel Population genetic structure RAD-seq Temporal and spatial 



We sincerely thank Dr. Minhui Wang for assistance with data analysis. Research supported by the Cornell China Faculty Development Program,the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31201995), the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund from Shanghai University, the Shanghai Municipal Agricultural Commission (No. 2013 2–2), the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission of Chongming (Grant No. 13231203504) and the Open Foundation of Engineering Research Centre of Modern Industrial Technology for Eels (No. RE201501), Ministry of Education. ERD is supported by NIH F32 DK109595.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10592_2019_1146_MOESM1_ESM.docx (56 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 60 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoling Gong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emily R. Davenport
    • 2
  • Dehai Wang
    • 1
  • Andrew G. Clark
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Shanghai Collaborative Innovation for Aquatic Animal Genetics and Breeding, Shanghai Universities Key Laboratory of Marine Animal Taxonomy and Evolution, National Demonstration Center for Experimental Fisheries Science EducationShanghai Ocean UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Molecular Biology & GeneticsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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