biogemme copy

Biologie et Génétique
des Mammifères Marins
dans leur Environnement

Caractérisation génétique des phoques gris en Bretagne


L'article decrivant notre étude de la diversité génétique des phoques gris en Bretagne et le decryptage de l'histoire ancestrale de l'espèce en Atlantique Nord est paru dans Marine Ecology Progress Series. 

Three different evolutionarily significant units (ESU) can be discerned in the grey seal Halichoerus grypus: in the northwest Atlantic, the northeast Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. The northeast Atlantic population has been strongly affected by hunting around the European main- land, where it is only in the last decades that breeding colonies have reappeared. The southern- most settlement of the northeast Atlantic ESU is found in the Molène archipelago, northwest France. We studied polymorphisms of the mitochondrial control region (MCR) in grey seals sam- pled along the Atlantic coast of France for over a decade. MCR polymorphisms highlighted the existence of 4 major MCR haplogroups. Comparison of MCR sequences with those in the Gen- Bank database yielded highly significant differentiation between grey seals sampled in France and grey seals originating from the North Sea and the north and east of the British Isles, as well as from the Baltic Sea. MCR haplogroups were also identified in Baltic Sea grey seals, with some being in common with our samples, while others were not. The times of separation between the MCR haplogroups were estimated to be between 84 000 and 20 500 years ago, and differentiation between Baltic Sea and French coast haplotypes was estimated to have occurred approximately 8000 years ago. These data, added to positive expansion signals, suggest that MCR haplogroups correspond to ancestral maternal lineages, isolated in different grey seal refugia during the last ice age and prior to the expansion of the species in the North Atlantic and the separation between the East Atlantic and the Baltic Sea ESUs.