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Mol Ecol. 2005 Dec;14(14):4371-87.

Evolutionary history of the European whitefish Coregonus lavaretus (L.) species complex as inferred from mtDNA phylogeography and gill-raker numbers.

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Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Tungasletta 2, NO-7485 Trondheim, Norway.


We compared mitochondrial DNA and gill-raker number variation in populations of the European whitefish Coregonus lavaretus (L.) species complex to illuminate their evolutionary history, and discuss mechanisms behind diversification. Using single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and sequencing 528 bp of combined parts of the cytochrome oxidase b (cyt b) and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 3 (ND3) mithochondrial DNA (mtDNA) regions, we documented phylogeographic relationships among populations and phylogeny of mtDNA haplotypes. Demographic events behind geographical distribution of haplotypes were inferred using nested clade analysis (NCA) and mismatch distribution. Concordance between operational taxonomical groups, based on gill-raker numbers, and mtDNA patterns was tested. Three major mtDNA clades were resolved in Europe: a North European clade from northwest Russia to Denmark, a Siberian clade from the Arctic Sea to southwest Norway, and a South European clade from Denmark to the European Alps, reflecting occupation in different glacial refugia. Demographic events inferred from NCA were isolation by distance, range expansion, and fragmentation. Mismatch analysis suggested that clades which colonized Fennoscandia and the Alps expanded in population size 24 500-5800 years before present, with minute female effective population sizes, implying small founder populations during colonization. Gill-raker counts did not commensurate with hierarchical mtDNA clades, and poorly with haplotypes, suggesting recent origin of gill-raker variation. Whitefish designations based on gill-raker numbers were not associated with ancient clades. Lack of congruence in morphology and evolutionary lineages implies that the taxonomy of this species complex should be reconsidered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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