On the origin of species: Insights from the ecological genomics of lake whitefish

Louis Bernatchez, Sébastien Renaut, Andrew R. Whiteley, Nicolas Derome, Julie Jeukens, Lysandre Landry, Guoqing Lu, Arne W. Nolte, Kjartan Østbye, Sean M. Rogers, Jérôme St-Cyr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


In contrast to the large amount of ecological information supporting the role of natural selection as a main cause of population divergence and speciation, an understanding of the genomic basis underlying those processes is in its infancy. In this paper, we review the main findings of a long-term research programme that we have been conducting on the ecological genomics of sympatric forms of whitefish (Coregonus spp.) engaged in the process of speciation. We present this system as an example of how applying a combination of approaches under the conceptual framework of the theory of adaptive radiation has yielded substantial insight into evolutionary processes in a non-model species. We also discuss how the joint use of recent biotechnological developments will provide a powerful means to address issues raised by observations made to date. Namely, we present data illustrating the potential offered by combining next generation sequencing technologies with other genomic approaches to reveal the genomic bases of adaptive divergence and reproductive isolation. Given increasing access to these new genomic tools, we argue that non-model species studied in their ecological context such as whitefish will play an increasingly important role in generalizing knowledge of speciation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1783-1800
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1547
StatePublished - Jun 12 2010


  • 454 sequencing
  • Ecological genomics
  • Microarrays
  • Selection
  • Speciation
  • Stickleback


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