Despite the devastating impact of the lionfish (Pterois volitans) invasion on NW Atlantic ecosystems, little genetic information about the invasion process is available. We applied Genotyping by Sequencing techniques to identify 1,220 single nucleotide polymorphic sites (SNPs) from 162 lionfish samples collected between 2013 and 2015 from two areas chronologically identified as the first and last invaded areas in US waters: the east coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. We used population genomic analyses, including phylogenetic reconstruction, Bayesian clustering, genetic distances, Discriminant Analyses of Principal Components, and coalescence simulations for detection of outlier SNPs, to understand genetic trends relevant to the lionfish's long-term persistence. We found no significant differences in genetic structure or diversity between the two areas (FST p-values > 0.01, and t-test p-values > 0.05). In fact, our genomic analyses showed genetic homogeneity, with enough gene flow between the east coast of Florida and Gulf of Mexico to erase previous signals of genetic divergence detected between these areas, secondary spreading, and bottlenecks in the Gulf of Mexico. These findings suggest rapid genetic changes over space and time during the invasion, resulting in one panmictic population with no signs of divergence between areas due to local adaptation.
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