Jordi Viñas and Marta Muñoz, researchers from the Universitat de Girona, specifically from the LIG and the GRMar research groups, are leading the new project #ConSarVAr: Analysis of the genomic variability and condition of Sardine populations in the Mediterranean Sea. Implications for fishery management.
The European Sardine, Sardina pilchardus, is considered a key species in the marine ecosystem and also has a major importance as a fishery resource. It is currently considered as overfished in the Mediterranean Sea. Several fishery management organizations consider alarming its situation, identifying the sardine as a key species to be analyzed in the western Mediterranean. Sardine catches are currently decreasing in volume with individuals decreasing in size, age and condition. We also demonstrated a recent drastic reduction in their size of sexual maturation.
The impact of fishing pressure on species with affinity for temperate or cold water such as sardines is increased with the effect of the seawater temperature rise detected in recent decades, especially in semi-enclosed areas such as the Mediterranean Sea, where displacements of the population may be limited. All this can lead to spatio-temporal changes in the fish abundance and condition, directly influencing the productivity and sustainability of the exploited populations.
The aim of this project is to analyze the genetic population structure and the condition of the sardine in the Eastern Mediterranean. To achieve this goal three main objectives are defined. Objective 1: Establish the population structure of the sardine in the sampling area using new tools of massive genotyping based on new generation sequencing (2bRAdseq). In this objective we will define the population units, and the demographic structure of each population by analyzing the effective population size. The condition of the specimens of the different populations will also be determined (objective 2). The analysis of morphometric indexes and lipid content according to the reproductive maturity status of the individuals will be supported by a reference framework based on a deep study of the relationships between condition, parasitism and reproduction throughout the whole annual cycle. Finally, the combination of the results of the first two objectives will allow the analysis of genetic variability to (objective 3) identify genomic areas under selection and their relationship to condition and temperature. The knowledge of the condition state will be related to the variability of genomic regions by the analysis of Fst outliers that will allow identify genes related to the condition of the individuals. The achievement of these objectives, especially of Objectives 1 and 2, will provide useful data to know the state of conservation of the sardine and to design strategies to improve the management of the fishery in the Mediterranean, and the recovery of its populations. This project has been funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y universidades from the Government of Spain.
We are seeking a PhD candidate to join our team. Candidates will conduct research on genòmics and condition of Sardines and should have a strong background on biology and genetics with excellent marks,
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