Select Page

Population Differentiation Determined from Putative Neutral and Divergent Adaptive Genetic Markers in Eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus, Osmeridae), an Anadromous Pacific Smelt

Mar 4, 2015


Twelve Eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus, Osmeridae) populations ranging from Cook Inlet, Alaska and along the west coast of North America to the Columbia River were examined by restriction-site-associated DNA (RAD) sequencing in order to elucidate patterns of neutral and adaptive variation in this high gene flow species. A total of 4,104 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were discovered across the genome; with 193 putatively adaptive SNPs as determined by FST outlier tests. Estimates of population structure in eulachon with the putatively adaptive SNPs were similar, but provided greater resolution of stocks compared with a putatively neutral panel of 3,911 SNPs or previous estimates with 14 microsatellites. A cline of increasing measures of genetic diversity from south to north was found in the adaptive panel, but not in the neutral markers (SNPs or microsatellites). This may indicate divergent selective pressures in differing freshwater and marine environments between regional eulachon populations, and that these adaptive diversity patterns not seen with neutral markers could be a consideration when determining genetic boundaries for conservation purposes. Estimates of effective population size (Ne) were similar with the neutral SNP panel and microsatellites and may be utilized to monitor population status for eulachon where census sizes are difficult to obtain. Greater differentiation with the panel of putatively adaptive SNPs provided higher individual assignment accuracy compared to the neutral panel or microsatellites for stock identification purposes. This study presents the first SNPs that have been developed for eulachon, and analyses with these markers highlighted the importance of integrating genome-wide neutral and adaptive genetic variation for applications of conservation and management.


John Candy, Nathan Campbell, Matthew Grinnell, Terry Beacham, Wesley Larson, and Shawn Narum


Candy, J.R., N.R. Campbell, M.H. Grinnell, T.D. Beacham, W.A. Larson, and S.R. Narum. 2015. Population differentiation determined from putative neutral and divergent adaptive genetic markers in Eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus, Osmeridae), an anadromous Pacific Smelt. Molecular Ecology Resources 15(6):1421-1434.  Online at



Report No.


Media Type

Journal Article