Genetic homogeneity in the deep-sea grenadier Macrourus berglax across the North Atlantic Ocean

Ilaria Coscia, Rita Castilho, Alexia Massa-Gallucci, Carlotta Sacchi, Regina L. Cunha, Sergio Stefanni, Sarah Helyar, Halvor Knutsen, Stefano Mariani

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Paucity of data on population structure and connectivity in deep sea species remains a major obstacle to their sustainable management and conservation in the face of ever increasing fisheries pressure and other forms of impacts on deep sea ecosystems. The roughhead grenadier Macrourus berglax presents all the classical characteristics of a deep sea species, such as slow growth and low fecundity, which make them particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic impact, due to their low resilience to change. In this study, the population structure of the roughhead grenadier is investigated throughout its geographic distribution using two sets of molecular markers: a partial sequence of the Control Region of mitochondrial DNA and species-specific microsatellites. No evidence of significant structure was found throughout the North Atlantic, with both sets of molecular markers yielding the same results of overall homogeneity. We posit two non-mutually exclusive scenarios that can explain such outcome: i) substantial high gene flow among locations, possibly maintained by larval stages, ii) very large effective size of post-glacially expanded populations. The results can inform management strategies in this by-caught species, and contribute to the broader issue of biological connectivity in the deep ocean.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDeep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers
Early online date17 Jan 2018
Publication statusEarly online date - 17 Jan 2018


  • Microsatellites; Mitochondrial DNA; Marine; Population structure; Fisheries

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