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Forensic genomics as a novel tool for identifying the causes of mass mortality events

Journal article
Authors Pierre De Wit
Laura Rogers-Bennett
Raphael M Kudela
Stephen R Palumbi
Published in Nature Communications
Volume 5
Issue artikel nr 3652
Pages 1-8
ISSN 2041-1723
Publication year 2014
Published at The Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 1-8
Language en
Keywords evolution, mass mortality, yessotoxin, harmful algal blooms
Subject categories Biostatistics, Genetics, Marine ecology, Evolutionary Biology


Toxic spills, hypoxia, disease outbreaks and toxin-producing algal blooms are all possible causes of mass mortality events, but in many cases it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of death. Here we present a new approach that we name ‘forensic genomics’, combining field surveys, toxin testing and genomic scans. Forensic genomics queries allele frequencies of surviving animals for signatures of agents causing mass mortality and, where genetic diversity is high, is uniquely suited to identify natural selection in action. As a proof of concept, we use this approach to investigate the causes of an invertebrate mass mortality event, and its genetic effects on an abalone population. Our results support that a harmful algal bloom producing a yessotoxin was a major causative agent to the event.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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