Indications of strong adaptive population genetic structure in albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) in the southwest and central Pacific Ocean.
Ecol Evol. 2019 Sep;9(18):10354-10364
Authors: Anderson G, Hampton J, Smith N, Rico C
Albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) has a distinctly complex life history in which juveniles and adults separate geographically but at times inhabit the same spaces sequentially. The species also migrates long distances and presumably experiences varied regimes of physical stress over a lifetime. There are, therefore, many opportunities for population structure to arise based on stochastic differences or environmental factors that promote local adaptation. However, with the extent of mobility consistently demonstrated by tagged individuals, there is also a strong argument for panmixia within an ocean basin. It is important to confirm such assumptions from a population genetics standpoint for this species in particular because albacore is one of the principal market tuna species that sustains massive global fisheries and yet is also a slow-growing temperate tuna. Consequently, we used 1,837 neutral SNP loci and 89 loci under potential selection to analyze population genetic structure among five sample groups collected from the western and central South Pacific. We found no evidence to challenge panmixia at neutral loci, but strong indications of structuring at adaptive loci. One population sample, from French Polynesia in 2004, was particularly differentiated. Unfortunately, the current study cannot infer whether the divergence is geographic or temporal, or possibly caused by sample distribution. We encourage future studies to include potentially adaptive loci and to continue fine-scale observations within an ocean basin, and not to assume genome-wide panmixia.