Genomic Differentiation and Demographic Histories of Atlantic and Indo-Pacific Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares) Populations

Genome Biol Evol. 2017 Apr 1;9(4):1084-1098. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evx067.


Recent developments in the field of genomics have provided new and powerful insights into population structure and dynamics that are essential for the conservation of biological diversity. As a commercially highly valuable species, the yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) is intensely exploited throughout its distribution in tropical oceans around the world, and is currently classified as near threatened. However, conservation efforts for this species have so far been hampered by limited knowledge of its population structure, due to incongruent results of previous investigations. Here, we use whole-genome sequencing in concert with a draft genome assembly to decipher the global population structure of the yellowfin tuna, and to investigate its demographic history. We detect significant differentiation of Atlantic and Indo-Pacific yellowfin tuna populations as well as the possibility of a third diverged yellowfin tuna group in the Arabian Sea. We further observe evidence for past population expansion as well as asymmetric gene flow from the Indo-Pacific to the Atlantic.

Keywords: conservation; demography; fisheries management; population genomics; tuna; whole-genome sequencing.