Genetic architecture of age at maturity can generate divergent and disruptive harvest-induced evolution.
ABSTRACT: Life-history traits are generally assumed to be inherited quantitatively. Fishing that targets large, old individuals is expected to decrease age at maturity. In Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), it has recently been discovered that sea age at maturity is under strong control by a single locus with sexually dimorphic expression of heterozygotes, which makes it less intuitive to predict how life histories respond to selective fishing. We explore evolutionary responses to fishing in Atlantic salmon, using eco-evolutionary simulations with two alternative scenarios for the genetic architecture of age at maturity: (i) control by multiple loci with additive effects and (ii) control by one locus with sexually dimorphic expression. We show that multi-locus control leads to unidirectional evolution towards earlier maturation, whereas single-locus control causes largely divergent and disruptive evolution of age at maturity without a clear phenotypic trend but a wide range of alternative evolutionary trajectories and greater trait variability within trajectories. Our results indicate that the range of evolutionary responses to selective fishing can be wider than previously thought and that a lack of phenotypic trend need not imply that evolution has not occurred. These findings underscore the role of genetic architecture of life-history traits in understanding how human-induced selection can shape target populations.This article is part of the themed issue 'Human influences on evolution, and the ecological and societal consequences'.
Project description:Understanding the mechanisms by which populations adapt to their environments is a fundamental aim in biology. However, it remains challenging to identify the genetic basis of traits, provide evidence of genetic changes and quantify phenotypic responses. Age at maturity in Atlantic salmon represents an ideal trait to study contemporary adaptive evolution as it has been associated with a single locus in the vgll3 region and has also strongly changed in recent decades. Here, we provide an empirical example of contemporary adaptive evolution of a large-effect locus driving contrasting sex-specific evolutionary responses at the phenotypic level. We identified an 18% decrease in the vgll3 allele associated with late maturity in a large and diverse salmon population over 36?years, induced by sex-specific selection during sea migration. Those genetic changes resulted in a significant evolutionary response only in males, due to sex-specific dominance patterns and vgll3 allelic effects. The vgll3 allelic and dominance effects differed greatly in a second population and were likely to generate different selection and evolutionary patterns. Our study highlights the importance of knowledge of genetic architecture to better understand fitness trait evolution and phenotypic diversity. It also emphasizes the potential role of adaptive evolution in the trend towards earlier maturation observed in numerous Atlantic salmon populations worldwide.
Project description:Alternative mating tactics have important ecological and evolutionary implications and are determined by complex interactions between environmental and genetic factors. Here, we study the genetic effect and architecture of the variability in reproductive tactics among Atlantic salmon males which can either mature sexually early in life in freshwater or more commonly only after completing a migration at sea. We applied the latent environmental threshold model (LETM), which provides a conceptual framework linking individual status to a threshold controlling the decision to develop alternative traits, in an innovative experimental design using a semi-natural river which allowed for ecologically relevant phenotypic expression. Early male parr maturation rates varied greatly across families (10 to 93%) which translated into 90% [64-100%] of the phenotypic variation explained by genetic variation. Three significant QTLs were found for the maturation status, however only one collocated with a highly significant QTL explaining 20.6% of the variability of the maturation threshold located on chromosome 25 and encompassing a locus previously shown to be linked to sea age at maturity in anadromous Atlantic salmon. These results provide new empirical illustration of the relevance of the LETM for a better understanding of alternative mating tactics evolution in natural populations.
Project description:Wild and domesticated Atlantic salmon males display large variation for sea age at sexual maturation, which varies between 1-5 years. Previous studies have uncovered a genetic predisposition for variation of age at maturity with moderate heritability, thus suggesting a polygenic or complex nature of this trait. The aim of this study was to identify associated genetic loci, genes and ultimately specific sequence variants conferring sea age at maturity in salmon. We performed a genome wide association study (GWAS) using a pool sequencing approach (20 individuals per river and phenotype) of male salmon returning to rivers as sexually mature either after one sea winter (2009) or three sea winters (2011) in six rivers in Norway. The study revealed one major selective sweep, which covered 76 significant SNPs in which 74 were found in a 370 kb region of chromosome 25. Genotyping other smolt year classes of wild and domesticated salmon confirmed this finding. Genotyping domesticated fish narrowed the haplotype region to four SNPs covering 2386 bp, containing the vgll3 gene, including two missense mutations explaining 33-36% phenotypic variation. A single locus was found to have a highly significant role in governing sea age at maturation in this species. The SNPs identified may be both used as markers to guide breeding for late maturity in salmon aquaculture and in monitoring programs of wild salmon. Interestingly, a SNP in proximity of the VGLL3 gene in humans (Homo sapiens), has previously been linked to age at puberty suggesting a conserved mechanism for timing of puberty in vertebrates.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In Atlantic salmon in the wild, age at maturity is strongly influenced by the vgll3 locus. Under farming conditions, light, temperature and feeding regimes are known significantly advance or delay age at maturity. However, the potential influence of the vgll3 locus on the maturation of salmon reared under farming conditions has been rarely investigated, especially in females. RESULTS:Here, we reared domesticated salmon (mowi strain) with different vgll3 genotypes under standard farming conditions until they matured at either one, two or more than two sea winters. Interestingly, and in contrast to previous findings in the wild, we were not able to identify a link between vgll3 and age at maturity in females when reared under farming conditions. For males however, we found that the probability of delaying maturation from one to two sea winters was significantly lower in fish homozygous for the early allele compared to homozygous fish for the late allele, while the probability for heterozygous fish was intermediate. These data also contrast to previous findings in the wild where the early allele has been reported as dominant. However, we found that the probability of males delaying maturation from two to three sea winters was regulated in the same manner as the wild. CONCLUSIONS:Collectively, our data suggest that increased growth rates in mowi salmon, caused by high feed intake and artificial light and temperature regimes together with other possible genetic/epigenetic components, may significantly influence the impact that the vgll3 locus has on age at maturity, especially in females. In turn, our results show that the vgll3 locus can only to a large extent be used in selective breeding to control age at maturation in mowi males. In summary, we here show that in contrast to the situation in wild salmon, under farming conditions vgll3 does not seem to influence age at maturity in mowi females whereas in mowi males, maturing as one or two sea winters it alters the early allele effect from dominant to intermediate.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Understanding genetic architecture is essential for determining how traits will change in response to evolutionary processes such as selection, genetic drift and/or gene flow. In Atlantic salmon, age at maturity is an important life history trait that affects factors such as survival, reproductive success, and growth. Furthermore, age at maturity can seriously impact aquaculture production. Therefore, characterizing the genetic architecture that underlies variation in age at maturity is of key interest. RESULTS:Here, we refine our understanding of the genetic architecture for age at maturity of male Atlantic salmon using a genome-wide association study of 11,166 males from a single aquaculture strain, using imputed genotypes at 512,397 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). All individuals were genotyped with a 50K SNP array and imputed to higher density using parents genotyped with a 930K SNP array and pedigree information. We found significant association signals on 28 of 29 chromosomes (P-values: 8.7 × 10-133-9.8 × 10-8), including two very strong signals spanning the six6 and vgll3 gene regions on chromosomes 9 and 25, respectively. Furthermore, we identified 116 independent signals that tagged 120 candidate genes with varying effect sizes. Five of the candidate genes found here were previously associated with age at maturity in other vertebrates, including humans. DISCUSSION:These results reveal a mixed architecture of large-effect loci and a polygenic component that consists of multiple smaller-effect loci, suggesting a more complex genetic architecture of Atlantic salmon age at maturity than previously thought. This more complex architecture will have implications for selection on this key trait in aquaculture and for management of wild salmon populations.
Project description:Despite the key role that sex-determination plays in evolutionary processes, it is still poorly understood in many species. In salmonids, which are among the best studied fishes, the master sex-determining gene sexually dimorphic on the Y-chromosome (sdY) has been identified. However, sdY displays unexplained discordance to the phenotypic sex, with a variable frequency of phenotypic females being reported as genetic males. Multiple sex determining loci in Atlantic salmon have also been reported, possibly as a result of recent transposition events in this species. We hypothesized the existence of an autosomal copy of sdY, causing apparent discordance between phenotypic and genetic sex, that is transmitted in accordance with autosomal inheritance. To test this, we developed a qPCR methodology to detect the total number of sdY copies present in the genome. Based on the observed phenotype/genotype frequencies and linkage analysis among 2,025 offspring from 64 pedigree-controlled families of accurately phenotyped Atlantic salmon, we identified both males and females carrying one or two autosomal copies of sdY in addition to the Y-specific copy present in males. Patterns across families were highly consistent with autosomal inheritance. These autosomal sdY copies appear to have lost the ability to function as a sex determining gene and were only occasionally assigned to the actual sex chromosome in any of the affected families.
Project description:Non-native species may be introduced either intentionally or unintentionally, and their impact can range from benign to highly disruptive. Non-native salmonids were introduced into Lake Ontario, Canada, to provide recreational fishing opportunities; however, the establishment of those species has been proposed as a significant barrier to the reintroduction of native Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) due to intense interspecific competition. In this study, we compared population differences of Atlantic salmon in transcriptome response to interspecific competition. We reared Atlantic salmon from two populations (LaHave River and Sebago Lake) with fish of each of three non-native salmonids (Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, rainbow trout O. mykiss, and brown trout S. trutta) in artificial streams. We used RNA-seq to assess transcriptome differences between the Atlantic salmon populations and the responses of these populations to the interspecific competition treatments after 10 months of competition in the stream tanks. We found that population differences in gene expression were generally greater than the effects of interspecific competition. Interestingly, we found that the two Atlantic salmon populations exhibited similar responses to interspecific competition based on functional gene ontologies, but the specific genes within those ontologies were different. Our transcriptome analyses suggest that the most stressful competitor (as measured by the highest number of differentially expressed genes) differs between the two study populations. Our transcriptome characterization highlights the importance of source population selection for conservation applications, as organisms with different evolutionary histories can possess different transcriptional responses to the same biotic stressors. The results also indicate that generalized predictions of the response of native species to interactions with introduced species may not be appropriate without incorporating potential population-specific response to introduced species.
Project description:Many scarab beetles have sexually dimorphic exaggerated horns that are an evolutionary novelty. Since the shape, number, size, and location of horns are highly diverged within Scarabaeidae, beetle horns are an attractive model for studying the evolution of sexually dimorphic and novel traits. In beetles including the Japanese rhinoceros beetle Trypoxylus dichotomus, the sex differentiation gene doublesex (dsx) plays a crucial role in sexually dimorphic horn formation during larval-pupal development. However, knowledge of when and how dsx drives the gene regulatory network (GRN) for horn formation to form sexually dimorphic horns during development remains elusive. To address this issue, we identified a Trypoxylus-ortholog of the sex determination gene, transformer (tra), that regulates sex-specific splicing of the dsx pre-mRNA, and whose loss of function results in sex transformation. By knocking down tra function at multiple developmental timepoints during larval-pupal development, we estimated the onset when the sex-specific GRN for horn formation is driven. In addition, we also revealed that dsx regulates different aspects of morphogenetic activities during the prepupal and pupal developmental stages to form appropriate morphologies of pupal head and thoracic horn primordia as well as those of adult horns. Based on these findings, we discuss the evolutionary developmental background of sexually dimorphic trait growth in horned beetles.
Project description:Study revealed new information about molecular functions of the vgll3, akap11 and six6 genes associated with age-at-maturity in Atlantic salmon Overall design: In the study presented here, expression patterns of three genes associated with age-at-maturity in Atlantic salmon, their paralogs and 205 additional genes were studied in whole hatchery-derived individuals of two embryonic stages, alevin and fry, blood of fry and in different tissues of both hatchery-derived and and wild three-year-old parr.
Project description:Background:Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) is an anadromous migratory species adapted to cool temperatures. It is protected by the Bern convention and by the European Habitats Directive. It has been listed as vulnerable by the French IUCN Red List. Salmon decline is the result of combined and cumulated, mainly anthropic, causes: climate change, increasingly high number of impoundments, degradation of water quality and habitat and over-exploitation by fisheries. Monitoring of this species has been carried out on three rivers in France (Southern part of the distribution area) to produce data and knowledge (growth, precocious maturity, survival) for stock management.For 24 years, a specific and standardised electric fishing protocol has been used to target young-of-the-year (0+ parr) Atlantic salmon. Sampling was restricted to areas with shallow running water that flows over a coarse bottom substrate, i.e. the preferred habitat of young salmon. This monitoring and inventory of growing areas thus allows assessment of juvenile recruitment and provides baseline data required to calculate total allowable catches (TACs). New information:The dataset currently consists of 47,077 occurrence data points from 105 sites spanning up to 24 years in three different watersheds in France. Beyond our project, this dataset has a clear utility to research since it associates abundance measurements with the measurement of biological traits and the collection of tissue samples. It allows for current and retrospective characterisation of individuals or populations, according to life history traits and genetic features in relation to changes in environmental conditions. The fact that the monitoring takes place in France, the southern part of the distribution area, over 24 years, makes the dataset particularly relevant for climate change studies.