A new paper published by the Journal of Sea Research believes that it has found four genetically distinct clusters of Nephrops norvegicus North Sea nephrops fishery faces big challenges and needs new management strategies a new report finds

A new paper published by the Journal of Sea Research believes that it has found four genetically distinct clusters of Nephrops

A new paper published by the Journal of Sea Research called “Microsatellites obtained using high throughput sequencing and a novel microsatellite genotyping method reveals population genetic structure in Norway Lobster, Nephrops norvegicus” believes that it has found distinctive clusters in the species of shellfish.

The researchers are Jeanne Gallagher, Jens Carlsson and Graham M Hughes from School of Biology and Environmental Science/Earth Institute, University College Dublin, Colm Lordan from the Irish Marine Institute, and Jónas P Jonasson from the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Hafnarfjordu, Iceland.

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Commonly known as Norway lobster or Dublin Bay Prawn, Nephrops norvegicus are benthic dwelling crustaceans which are distributed through the north-east Atlantic from the coast of North Africa, south Iceland reaching northern Norway and Skagerrak and, in the Mediterranean, from the Alboran to Aegean Sea.

Adult nephrops live approximately five to ten years in burrows on patches of soft-muddy sediment on the sea-floor. Depth ranges for nephrops are between c.4 to 800 m and varies latitudinally with individuals typically found between 20 and 500 m on the north-east Atlantic shelf and between 200 and 800 m in the Mediterranean. Adults do not migrate or leave their mud patches at any point in their life-cycle. Egg incubating varies according to latitude ranging from six months in the Mediterranean to more than ten months in Iceland, while hatching occurs at the end of winter or early in spring. Dispersal occurs in the larval stage, which may last up to fifty days, according to former research.

In the research carried out by the group, Genotyping by sequencing along with high throughput sequencing approaches allowed for the rapid development and discovery of variable markers such as microsatellites, which can be highly informative for population genetics. These approaches, used along with combinatorial barcoding techniques and a novel genotyping protocol, were employed to examine the population structure of commercially valuable fisheries species, nephrops. 

Results from the study suggests at least four genetically distinct groupings of the species across the sampled distribution and the presence of isolation by distance. No evidence for genetic bottlenecks were found in any population, however the genetic structure observed in this study does not correspond to current fisheries management delineations.

This study is the first to apply microsatellite markers distribution-wide for this species, revealing a population structure for Nephrops norvegicus important for informing management of this widely fished species.

The full paper can be found by clicking here.

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