Integrating Anisakis spp. parasites data and host genetic structure in the frame of a holistic approach for stock identification of selected Mediterranean Sea fish species

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The unique environment of the Mediterranean Sea makes fish stock assessment a major challenge. Stock identification of Mediterranean fisheries has been based mostly from data on biology, morphometrics, artificial tags, otolith shape and fish genetics, with less effort on the use of parasites as biomarkers. Here we use some case studies comparing Mediterranean vs Atlantic fish stocks in a multidisciplinary framework. The generalized Procrustes Rotation (PR) was used to assess the association between host genetics and larval Anisakis spp. datasets on demersal (hake) and pelagic (horse mackerel, swordfish) species. When discordant results emerged, they were due to the different features of the data. While fish population genetics can detect changes over an evolutionary timescale, providing indications on the cohesive action of gene flow, parasites are more suitable biomarkers when considering fish stocks over smaller temporal and spatial scales, hence giving information of fish movements over their lifespan. Future studies on the phylogeographic analysis of parasites suitable as biomarkers, and that of their fish host, performed on the same genes, will represent a further tool to be included in multidisciplinary studies on fish stock structure.

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