Genetic parallelism between European flat oyster populations at the edge of their natural range

Although all marine ecosystems have experienced global-scale losses, oyster reefs have shown the greatest. Therefore, substantial efforts have been dedicated to restoration of such ecosystems during the last two decades. In Europe, several pilot projects for the restoration of the native European flat oyster, Ostrea edulis, recently begun and recommendations to preserve genetic diversity and to conduct monitoring protocols have been made. In particular, an initial step is to test for genetic differentiation against homogeneity among the oyster populations potentially involved in such programs. Therefore, we conducted a new sampling of wild populations at the European scale and a new genetic analysis with 203 markers to (1) confirm and study in more detail the pattern of genetic differentiation between Atlantic and Mediterranean populations, (2) identify potential translocations that could be due to aquaculture practices and (3) investigate the populations at the fringe of the geographical range, since they seemed related despite their geographic distance. Such information should be useful to enlighten the choice of the animals to be translocated or reproduced in hatcheries for further restocking. After the confirmation of the general geographical pattern of genetic structure and the identification of one potential case of aquaculture transfer at a large scale, we were able to detect genomic islands of differentiation mainly in the form of two groups of linked markers, which could indicate the presence of polymorphic chromosomal rearrangements. Furthermore, we observed a tendency for these two islands and the most differentiated loci to show a parallel pattern of differentiation, grouping the North Sea populations with the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea populations, against geography. We discussed the hypothesis that this genetic parallelism could be the sign of a shared evolutionary history of the two groups of populations despite them being at the border of the distribution nowadays.


European range, genetic parallelism, natural populations, Ostrea edulis, restoration, SNPs

How to cite
Lapègue Sylvie, Reisser Celine, Harrang Estelle, Heurtebise Serge, Bierne Nicolas (2023). Genetic parallelism between European flat oyster populations at the edge of their natural range. Evolutionary Applications. 16 (2). 393-407.,

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