Benelux Congress of Zoology edition:13 location:Leuven, Belgium date:27-28 October 2006
Theoretical population genetics predicts the role of the evolutionary forces of selection, migration, mutation and genetic drift in shaping genetic diversity. The observed genetic differentiation in marine populations based on studies of presumably selective neutral genetic markers, raises the question whether this is merely a reflection of limited gene flow and genetic drift, or if populations are likely to be adapted to local conditions. There is an increasing amount of evidence that selection is important in shaping variation within and between species. A direct approach for addressing this question is to demonstrate local adaptations in the wild.
The aim of this project is to gain insights in the relationship between the neutral population structure and local adaptation for a marine demersal fish. We’ve chosen a non-commercial species, the sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus), to distinguish natural selection from anthropologically induced selection. This project contains two components. First, there will be a spatio-temporal analysis with different types of neutral genetic markers. The second component studies genomic characteristics of local adaptation in the marine environment by innovative techniques as a genome scan and a candidate gene approach. These techniques can also provide a better understanding of how fish respond to the environment and by extension how they might respond to environmental change.