The anadromous Hilsa shad (Tenualosa ilisha) live in the Bay of Bengal and migrate to the estuaries and freshwater rivers for spawning and nursing of the juveniles. This has led to two pertinent questions: (i) do all Hilsa shad that migrate from marine to freshwater rivers come from the same population? and (ii) is there any relationship between adults and juveniles of a particular habitat? To address these questions, NextRAD sequencing was applied to genotype 31,276 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) loci for 180 individuals collected from six strategic locations of riverine, estuarine and marine habitats. FST OutFLANK approach identified 14,815 SNP loci as putatively neutral and 79 SNP loci as putatively adaptive. We observed that divergent local adaptations in differing environmental habitats have divided Hilsa shad into three genetically structured ecotypes: turbid freshwater (Western Riverine), clear freshwater (Eastern Riverine) and brackish-saline (Southern Estuarine-Marine). Our results also revealed that genes involved in neuronal activity may have facilitated the juveniles' Hilsa shad in returning to their respective natal rivers for spawning. This study emphasized the application of fundamental population genomics information in strategizing conservation and management of anadromous fish such as Hilsa shad that intersect diverse ecotypes during their life-history stages.
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