[MARMAM] New paper on fin whale genetics

Morten Tange Olsen mortentolsen at gmail.com
Tue Apr 22 02:16:21 PDT 2014

Dear MARMAMers

We are pleased to announce the publication of our paper on fin whale

Olsen MT, Pampoulie C, Daníelsdóttir AK, Lidh E, Bérubé M, Víkingsson G and
Palsbøll PJ (2014) Fin whale *MDH-1* and *MPI* allozyme variation is not
reflected in the corresponding DNA sequences. Ecology and Evolution, DOI:


The appeal of genetic inference methods to assess population genetic
structure and guide management efforts is grounded in the correlation
between the genetic similarity and gene flow among populations. Effects of
such gene flow are typically genomewide; however, some loci may appear as
outliers, displaying above or below average genetic divergence relative to
the genomewide level. Above average population, genetic divergence may be
due to divergent selection as a result of local adaptation. Consequently,
substantial efforts have been directed toward such outlying loci in order
to identify traits subject to local adaptation. Here, we report the results
of an investigation into the molecular basis of the substantial degree of
genetic divergence previously reported at allozyme loci among North
Atlantic fin whale (*Balaenoptera physalus*) populations. We sequenced the
exons encoding for the two most divergent allozyme loci (*MDH-1* and *MPI*)
and failed to detect any nonsynonymous substitutions. Following extensive
error checking and analysis of additional bioinformatic and morphological
data, we hypothesize that the observed allozyme polymorphisms may reflect
phenotypic plasticity at the cellular level, perhaps as a response to
nutritional stress. While such plasticity is intriguing in itself, and of
fundamental evolutionary interest, our key finding is that the observed
allozyme variation does not appear to be a result of genetic drift,
migration, or selection on the *MDH-1* and *MPI*exons themselves, stressing
the importance of interpreting allozyme data with caution. As for North
Atlantic fin whale population structure, our findings support the low
levels of differentiation found in previous analyses of DNA nucleotide loci.

The paper is open access

Best wishes,
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