Project description:The Gasterosteidae fish family hosts several species that are important models for eco-evolutionary, genetic, and genomic research. In particular, a wealth of genetic and genomic data has been generated for the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), the "ecology's supermodel," whereas the genomic resources for the nine-spined stickleback (Pungitius pungitius) have remained relatively scarce. Here, we report a high-quality chromosome-level genome assembly of P. pungitius consisting of 5,303 contigs (N50 = 1.2 Mbp) with a total size of 521 Mbp. These contigs were mapped to 21 linkage groups using a high-density linkage map, yielding a final assembly with 98.5% BUSCO completeness. A total of 25,062 protein-coding genes were annotated, and about 23% of the assembly was found to consist of repetitive elements. A comprehensive analysis of repetitive elements uncovered centromere-specific tandem repeats and provided insights into the evolution of retrotransposons. A multigene phylogenetic analysis inferred a divergence time of about 26 million years ago (Ma) between nine- and three-spined sticklebacks, which is far older than the commonly assumed estimate of 13 Ma. Compared with the three-spined stickleback, we identified an additional duplication of several genes in the hemoglobin cluster. Sequencing data from populations adapted to different environments indicated potential copy number variations in hemoglobin genes. Furthermore, genome-wide synteny comparisons between three- and nine-spined sticklebacks identified chromosomal rearrangements underlying the karyotypic differences between the two species. The high-quality chromosome-scale assembly of the nine-spined stickleback genome obtained with long-read sequencing technology provides a crucial resource for comparative and population genomic investigations of stickleback fishes and teleosts.
Project description:The complete mitochondrial genome sequences of three divergent lineages of the smooth tail nine-spined stickleback (<i>Pungitius laevis</i>) were obtained with massive parallel sequencing of their genomic DNA. The genome sequences were 16?574-16?580?bp long, and the gene order and contents were identical to those of other sequenced <i>Pungitius</i> mitogenomes. Although the mitogenome sequences of all three <i>P. laevis</i> lineages clustered within the genus <i>Pungitius</i>, they were clearly distinct and showed divergence comparable to that seen between some <i>Pungitius</i> species.
Project description:Specialization for the use of different resources can lead to ecological speciation. Accordingly, there are numerous examples of ecologically specialized pairs of fish "species" in postglacial lakes. Using a polymorphic panel of single nucleotide variants, we tested for genetic footprints of within-lake population stratification in nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius) collected from three habitats (viz. littoral, benthic, and pelagic) within a northern Swedish lake. Analyses of admixture, population structure, and relatedness all supported the conclusion that the fish from this lake form a single interbreeding unit.
Project description:Variation in age and size of mature nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius) within and among 16 Fennoscandian populations were assessed using skeletochronology. The average age of individuals in a given population varied from 1.7 to 4.7 years. Fish from pond populations were on average older than those from lake and marine populations, and females tended to be older than males. Reproduction in marine and lake populations commenced typically at an age of two years, whereas that in ponds at an age of three years. The maximum life span of the fish varied from 3 to 7 years. Mean body size within and among populations increased with increasing age, but the habitat and population differences in body size persisted even after accounting for variation in population age (and sex) structure. Hence, the population differences in mean body size are not explainable by age differences alone. As such, much of the pronounced intraspecific variation in population age structure can be attributed to delayed maturation and extended longevity of the pond fish. The results are contrasted and discussed in the context of similar data from the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) occupying the same geographic area.
Project description:Recognition plays an important role in the formation and organization of animal groups. Many animals are capable of class-level recognition, discriminating, for example, on the basis of species, kinship or familiarity. Individual recognition requires that animals recognize distinct cues, and learn to associate these with the specific individual from which they are derived. In this study, we asked whether sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus and Pungitius pungitius) were capable of learning to recognize individual conspecifics. We have used these fish as model organisms for studying selective social learning, and demonstrating a capacity for individual recognition in these species would provide an exciting opportunity for studying how biases for copying specific individuals shape the dynamics of information transmission. To test for individual recognition, we trained subjects to associate green illumination with the provision of a food reward close to one of two conspecifics, and, for comparison, one of two physical landmarks. Both species were capable of recognizing the rewarded landmark, but neither showed a preference for associating with the rewarded conspecific. Our study provides no evidence for individual recognition in either species. We speculate that the fission-fusion structure of their social groups may not favour a capacity for individual recognition.