Exploring genetic variation and population structure in a threatened species, Noturus placidus, with whole-genome sequence data

G3 (Bethesda). 2022 Apr 4;12(4):jkac046. doi: 10.1093/g3journal/jkac046.


The Neosho madtom (Noturus placidus) is a small catfish, generally less than 3 inches in length, unique to the Neosho-Spring River system within the Arkansas River Basin. It was federally listed as threatened in 1990, largely due to habitat loss. For conservation efforts, we generated whole-genome sequence data from 10 Neosho madtom individuals originating from 3 geographically separated populations to evaluate genetic diversity and population structure. A Neosho madtom genome was de novo assembled, and genome size and content were assessed. Single nucleotide polymorphisms were assessed from de Bruijn graphs, and via reference alignment with both the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) reference genome and Neosho madtom reference genome. Principal component analysis and structure analysis indicated weak population structure, suggesting fish from the 3 locations represent a single population. Using a novel method, genome-wide conservation and divergence between the Neosho madtom, channel catfish, and zebrafish (Danio rerio) was assessed by pairwise contig alignment, which demonstrated that genes important to embryonic development frequently had conserved sequences. This research in a threatened species with no previously published genomic resources provides novel genetic information to guide current and future conservation efforts and demonstrates that using whole-genome sequencing provides detailed information of population structure and demography using only a limited number of rare and valuable samples.

Keywords: Genome assembly; demography; population structure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endangered Species
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome
  • Ictaluridae* / genetics
  • Zebrafish / genetics