Ongoing climatic changes, with predictable impacts on marine environmental conditions, are expected to trigger organismal responses. Recent evidence shows that, in some marine species, variation in mitochondrial genes involved in the aerobic conversion of oxygen into ATP at the cellular level correlate with gradients of sea surface temperature and gradients of dissolved oxygen. Here, we investigated the adaptive potential of the European sardine Sardina pilchardus
populations offshore the Iberian Peninsula. We performed a seascape genetics approach that consisted of the high throughput sequencing of mitochondria’s ATP6
and five microsatellite loci on 96 individuals coupled with environmental information on sea surface temperature and dissolved oxygen across five sampling locations. Results show that, despite sardines forming a nearly panmictic population around Iberian Peninsula, haplotype frequency distribution can be explained by gradients of minimum sea surface temperature and dissolved oxygen. We further identified that the frequencies of the most common CYTB
haplotypes negatively correlate with minimum sea surface temperature across the sampled area, suggestive of a signature of selection. With signatures of selection superimposed on highly connected populations, sardines may be able to follow environmental optima and shift their distribution northwards as a response to the increasing sea surface temperatures.
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