Genomic stability through time despite decades of exploitation in cod on both sides of the Atlantic

Malin L. Pinsky, Anne Maria Eikeset, Cecilia Helmerson, Ian R. Bradbury, Paul Bentzen, Corey Morris, Agata T. Gondek-Wyrozemska, Helle Tessand Baalsrud, Marine Servane Ono Brieuc, Olav Sigurd Kjesbu, Jane A. Godiksen, Julia M.I. Barth, Michael Matschiner, Nils Chr Stenseth, Kjetill S. Jakobsen, Sissel Jentoft, Bastiaan Star

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The mode and extent of rapid evolution and genomic change in response to human harvesting are key conservation issues. Although experiments and models have shown a high potential for both genetic and phenotypic change in response to fishing, empirical examples of genetic responses in wild populations are rare. Here, we compare whole-genome sequence data of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) that were collected before (early 20th century) and after (early 21st century) periods of intensive exploitation and rapid decline in the age of maturation from two geographically distinct populations in Newfoundland, Canada, and the northeast Arctic, Norway. Our temporal, genome-wide analyses of 346,290 loci show no substantial loss of genetic diversity and high effective population sizes. Moreover, we do not find distinct signals of strong selective sweeps anywhere in the genome, although we cannot rule out the possibility of highly polygenic evolution. Our observations suggest that phenotypic change in these populations is not constrained by irreversible loss of genomic variation and thus imply that former traits could be reestablished with demographic recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2025453118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 13 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Fisheries-induced evolution
  • Genetic diversity
  • Historical DNA
  • Population genomics
  • Selective sweeps


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