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Mol Ecol. 2013 Apr;22(7):1761-2.

Conclusive evidence for panmixia in the American eel.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus C, Denmark.


Eels are unique species in the biological world. The two North Atlantic eel species, the American eel (Anguilla rostrata) and the European eel (A. anguilla), occupy a broad range of habitats from the Caribbean to Greenland in the western Atlantic and from Morocco to Iceland in the eastern Atlantic, respectively. North Atlantic eels have a catadromous life cycle, spawning only in the Sargasso Sea and spending the majority of their lives in continental (fresh, brackish and coastal) waters. Despite such a wide distribution range, North Atlantic eels have been regarded as a textbook example of panmictic species. In contrast with the large amount of population genetic studies testing the panmixia hypothesis in the European eel, a relatively modest effort has been given to study the population structure of the American eel. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, C^ote et al. (2013) present the most comprehensive American eel data set to date, which includes samples of different life stages obtained throughout all its distribution range in North America. Results show a total lack of genetic differentiation among samples and provide decisive evidence for panmixia in the American eel.

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