P4: Reconstruction of the genome of the extinct Lake Constance whitefish and characterisation of the genetic bases of habitat adaptation to the profundal zone

The aim of the project is to characterise the genome of the extinct whitefish and other Lake Constance whitefish to investigate what prevents whitefish from re-colonising their original habitat, the profundal zone (deep zone) in Lake Constance. We are making use of a historical collection of fish scales, which includes scales dating back to 1929 and allows us a detailed investigation of the genome of extinct whitefish species and populations. The insights gained into the origin and loss of biodiversity of endemic fish in the deep lakes surrounding the Alps, as well as a better understanding of the genetic basis of species diversity, ecological species differences and the genetics of adaptation, provide new insights into the adaptive potential of the remaining whitefish in Lake Constance and the restoration of their original biodiversity.

Project team

   Dr. Philine Feulner – project leader, project management

   Prof. Dr. Ole Seehausen – project co-leader

   M.Sc. David Frei – PhD student

Picture 1: whitefish scale
Picture 2: whitefish species from which scale samples are examined:
a) Coregonus arenicolus,
b) C. macrophthalmus,
c) C. gutturosus (extinct, picture of a preserved individual),
d) C. wartmanni
Picture 3: whitefish, Aquarium Lake Lucerne

Supported by

Interreg Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrhein/
EFRD – European Fund for Regional Development

Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)

Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)


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