A global study of shark populations

Project GenoJaws is a collaborative investigation of global shark populations developed in response to a need for greater understanding of both current and historical populations of tiger (Galeocerdo cuvier), grey nurse/sand tiger (Carcharias taurus), mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias). Our aim is to provide robust estimates of population trends in white, mako, tiger and sand tiger sharks and investigate genetically based adaptation, population connectivity and gene flow.

Project GenoJaws is named for the application of genetic methods on historical shark material such as jaws, bones and teeth. Large collections of jaws and bones from shark species are found in museums and private trophy collections worldwide and represent a highly valuable source of DNA for retrospective genetic analysis. While genome-scale screening of historical material is challenging, DNA has been successfully extracted from historical shark material dating back to 1912 [1].

Data generated from the project will allow temporal comparisons of large numbers of coding genes to provide estimates for effective population size, genetically based adaptation, population connectivity and gene flow between global populations of these shark species, for which the outcomes will be useful to inform policy and management efforts.

[1] Nielsen EE et al. (2017) Extracting DNA from ‘jaws’: high yield and quality from archived tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) skeletal material. Molecular Ecology Resources 17, 431-442.

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