On the origin of species: Recent contribution from the ecological genomics of whitefish

Friday seminar by Louis Bernatchez



In contrast to the large amount of ecological information supporting the role of natural selection as a main cause of population divergence and speciation, an understanding of the genomic basis underlying those processes is in its infancy. In this presentation, I will review recent findings of a long-term research program that we have been conducting on the ecological genomics of sympatric forms of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) engaged in the process of speciation. We present this system as an example of how applying a combination of approaches under the conceptual framework of the theory of adaptive radiation has yielded substantial insight into evolutionary processes in a non-model fish species. We also discuss how the joint use of recent biotechnological developments will provide a powerful means to address issues raised by observations made to date. Namely, we present data illustrating the potential offered by genomewide gene expression analysis and next generation sequencing technologies to reveal the genomic bases of adaptive divergence and reproductive isolation. Given increasing access to these new genomic tools, we argue that the investigation of divergent morphotypes in whitefish and other temperate fish species will play an increasingly important role in generalising knowledge of speciation.

Louis Bernatchez. Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes (IBIS), Université Laval, Québec QC.

Published Feb. 6, 2012 12:58 PM - Last modified Jan. 18, 2013 3:14 PM