FIE: Fisheries Induced Evolution (completed)

Fisheries induced evolution in Atlantic cod investigated by ancient and historic samples

About the project

The fisheries on Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) can be considered archetypal, with a long history of exploitation and prolific examples of stock depletion and collapse. Concern about the sustainability of this and other fisheries has stimulated research to investigate the extent of human impact on marine ecosystems. One of these impacts, fisheries induced evolution (FIE) has long been suspected in driving long-term changes in phenotypic traits of heavily exploited fish stocks around the world. These changes are expected to be detrimental, for example by lowering growth-rate or age-at-maturation, and may lead to substantial economical damage or, even more dramatically, lead to the complete collapse of individual stocks. Direct empirical support for FIE, however, has been lacking and instead the evidence has been indirect, implicated through phenotypic trends observed in major commercial fisheries. One reason for this lack of evidence is the absence of advanced genomic tools specifically designed to target those species subjected to FIE. Here we will investigate direct evidence for FIE and assess its impact, by exploiting recent advances in genomics, in particular the completion of an annotated reference genome for cod. We will first compare contemporary populations of cod that have experienced distinctive selective scenarios. In these populations, we will simultaneously characterize genome-wide genomic and phenotypic variation using over 15.000 genomic markers, and statistically evaluate the selective potential of novel genomic regions and candidate genes. Using the unique availability of archived and archeological material (up to 4500 year before present), we will further scrutinize a subset of most promising genomic regions. By evaluating these regions on a temporal scale, and associating changes in genomic variation with distinct selective scenarios over time, we will be able to assess the impact of FIE in this important ecological and economical species.


University of Gothenburg (Sweden)
Fisheries and Oceans (Canada)
Institute of Marine Research (IMR)
Marine Research Institute (Iceland)


This project funded by The Research Council of Norway.



Start: 1.6.2011. End: 31.05.2014.


Published Apr. 24, 2012 2:32 PM - Last modified Oct. 25, 2019 10:25 AM