Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Evolutionary potential and contemporary evolution in a changing Arctic environment: Arctic char and three-spine stickleback in Greenland

The genome of three-spine stickleback has been sequenced and can be readily applied in our analyses. However, no reference genome is available for Arctic char. We are therefore constructing a linkage map by setting up crosses of Arctic char and analyze genetic markers in parents and offspring. In late September - early October we sampled spawning Arctic char in the Nuuk Fjord system and set up seven family crosses that are currently being incubated in refrigerators in the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Nuuk. The photo shows a male Arctic char.

The Arctic is one of the regions where climate change will become most pronounced. When forecasting the effects of climate change on biodiversity, it is necessary to consider the possibility that species can adapt through evolution to the altered environment.

We test the hypothesis that the fish species Arctic char and three-spine stickleback in Western Greenland can invoke adaptive responses to ongoing climate change. Using population genomics methods such as RAD-sequencing, we scan the genomes of sticklebacks and char sampled in rivers and lakes along > 1,000 kilometres of the West coast. This allows for detecting footprints of selection in space and time, the latter accomplished by analyzing DNA from up to 80 year old archived Arctic char-samples. The project is funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research | Natural Sciences.