Seven Italian populations of twaite shad Alosa fallax from Northern and Central Italy were investigated to assess genetic diversity by Cytochrome b (Cytb) gene sequencing. The two ecotypes historically referred to landlocked and anadromous populations were investigated for the first time from a genetic point of view, to clarify their phylogenetic relationships. Moreover, results obtained from populations coming from separated Adriatic and Tyrrhenian basins were compared with data assessed in samples of allis shad Alosa alosa from the Atlantic basin. All the Italian samples were recognized at species level as A. fallax, differing for five mutations from A. alosa. The analyses confirmed the occurrence of a single phylogenetic lineage and of a single species within Italian waters, in both landlocked and migratory populations. The minimum spanning network identified six haplotypes for A. fallax and two haplotypes for A. alosa. The neighbour-joining tree and the maximum likelihood on the Cytb gene sequences confirmed two distinct lineages for A. alosa and A. fallax, without evidence of a separation at specific level within the A. fallax group. A weak separation due to incipient population differentiation was detected between anadromous and landlocked Italian populations, supporting the idea of a recent separation. The molecular data herein collected do not support the existence of the already controversial incipient species Alosa agone. Despite this, the two ecotypes could be considered as different management units from a conservation viewpoint.
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