Genetic architecture of threshold reaction norms for male alternative reproductive tactics in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.).
ABSTRACT: 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:It has been suggested that mating behaviours require high levels of cognitive ability. However, since investment into mating and the brain both are costly features, their relationship is likely characterized by energetic trade-offs. Empirical data on the subject remains equivocal. We investigated if early sexual maturation was associated with brain development in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), in which males can either stay in the river and sexually mature at a small size (sneaker males) or migrate to the sea and delay sexual maturation until they have grown much larger (anadromous males). Specifically, we tested how sexual maturation may induce plastic changes in brain development by rearing juveniles on either natural or ad libitum feeding levels. After their first season we compared brain size and brain region volumes across both types of male mating tactics and females. Body growth increased greatly across both male mating tactics and females during ad libitum feeding as compared to natural feeding levels. However, despite similar relative increases in body size, early maturing sneaker males maintained larger relative brain size during ad libitum feeding levels as compared to anadromous males and females. We also detected several differences in the relative size of separate brain regions across feeding treatments, sexes and mating strategies. For instance, the relative size of the cognitive centre of the brain, the telencephalon, was largest in sneaker males. Our data support that a large relative brain size is maintained in individuals that start reproduction early also during fast body growth. We propose that the cognitive demands during complex mating behaviours maintain a high level of investment into brain development in reproducing individuals.
Project description:Genetically modified (GM) strains now exist for many organisms, producing significant promise for agricultural production. However, if these organisms have some fitness advantage, they may also pose an environmental harm when released. High mating success of GM males relative to WT males provides such an important fitness advantage. Here, we provide documentation that GM male medaka fish modified with salmon growth hormone possess an overwhelming mating advantage. GM medaka offspring possess a survival disadvantage relative to WT, however. When both of these fitness components are included in our model, the transgene is predicted to spread if GM individuals enter wild populations (because of the mating advantage) and ultimately lead to population extinction (because of the viability disadvantage). Mating trials indicate that WT males use alternative mating tactics in an effort to counter the mating advantage of GM males, and we use genetic markers to ascertain the success of these alternative strategies. Finally, we model the impact of alternative mating tactics by WT males on transgene spread. Such tactics may reduce the rate of transgene spread, but not the outcome.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Mature male parr (MMP) represent an important alternative life-history strategy in Atlantic salmon populations. Previous studies indicate that the maturation size threshold for male parr varies among wild populations and is influenced by individual growth, environmental conditions, and genetics. More than ten generations of breeding have resulted in domesticated salmon displaying many genetic differences to wild salmon, including greatly increased growth rates. This may have resulted in domesticated fish with the potential to outgrow the size threshold for early maturation, or evolution of the size threshold of the trait itself. To investigate this, we performed a common-garden experiment under farming conditions using 4680 salmon from 39 families representing four wild, two wild-domesticated hybrid, and two domesticated strains. RESULTS:Domesticated salmon outgrew wild salmon 2-5-fold, and hybrids displayed intermediate growth. Overall, the numbers of MMP varied greatly among families and strains: averaging 4-12% in domesticated, 18-25% in hybrid, and 43-74% in the wild populations. However, when the influence of growth was accounted for, by dividing fish into lower and upper size modes, no difference in the incidence of MMP was detected among domesticated and wild strains in either size mode. In the lower size mode, hybrids displayed significantly lower incidences of mature males than their wild parental strains. No consistent differences in the body size of MMP, connected to domestication, was detected. CONCLUSIONS:Our data demonstrate: 1- no evidence for the evolution of the size threshold for MMP in domesticated salmon, 2- the vastly lower incidence of MMP in domesticated strains under aquaculture conditions is primarily due to their genetically increased growth rate causing them to outgrow the size threshold for early maturation, 3- the incidence of MMP is likely to overlap among domesticated and wild salmon in the natural habitat where they typically display overlapping growth, although hybrid offspring may display lower incidences of mature male parr. These results have implications for wild salmon populations that are exposed to introgression from domesticated escapees.
Project description:We examined the potential for ultrasound as a noninvasive tool for maturation monitoring in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) males. Ultrasound examination and measurements were compared to common practices for maturation monitoring such as gonadosomatic index (GSI), sex hormone analysis, and histological analysis of spermatogenesis. There were significant correlations (R2 = 0.68, P < 0.01) between ultrasound-based measurements of the left testis and total testes weight and GSI, and ultrasound could be used for noninvasive GSI measurements. Echogenicity of ultrasound images corresponded to the histological stages observed, which added nuance to ultrasound-based GSI measurements during final weeks preceding stripping. We propose that ultrasound can be used as an alternative to more invasive methods for sexual maturation monitoring in wild and farmed Atlantic salmon males. Using ultrasound technology, we have established a quick and noninvasive method that could reduce the number of stressful handlings and unwanted sacrifice of broodfish required for maturation monitoring in Atlantic salmon males.
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:Population-specific assessment and management of anadromous fish at sea requires detailed information about the distribution at sea over ontogeny for each population. However, despite a long history of mixed-stock sea fisheries on Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, migration studies showing that some salmon populations feed in different regions of the Baltic Sea and variation in dynamics occurs among populations feeding in the Baltic Sea, such information is often lacking. Also, current assessment of Baltic salmon assumes equal distribution at sea and therefore equal responses to changes in off-shore sea fisheries. Here, we test for differences in distribution at sea among and within ten Atlantic salmon Salmo salar populations originating from ten river-specific hatcheries along the Swedish Baltic Sea coast, using individual data from >125,000 tagged salmon, recaptured over five decades. We show strong population and size-specific differences in distribution at sea, varying between year classes and between individuals within year classes. This suggests that Atlantic salmon in the Baltic Sea experience great variation in environmental conditions and exploitation rates over ontogeny depending on origin and that current assessment assumptions about equal exploitation rates in the offshore fisheries and a shared environment at sea are not valid. Thus, our results provide additional arguments and necessary information for implementing population-specific management of salmon, also when targeting life stages at sea.
Project description:The role of parasitic sea lice (Siphonostomatoida; Caligidae), especially Lepeophtheirus salmonis, in the epidemiology of Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAv) has long been suspected. The epidemiological studies conducted during the 1998 major Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) outbreak in Scotland demonstrated a strong correlation between sea lice presence and ISAv positive sites or subsequent clinical outbreaks of ISA. The question posed from this observation was "do sea lice infestations on Atlantic salmon make them more susceptible to viral infections?" This study investigated the role that sea lice infestations have on the severity of ISAv infections and disease mortality in experimental populations of farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). A series of experiments was carried out that investigated the potential of sea lice to modify the outcome of an ISAv infection. Experimental populations of Atlantic salmon were established that had: no lice and no ISAv, a single infection with either ISAv or lice and a co-infection with lice then ISAV. The results were quite clear, the process of infestation by the parasite prior to ISAv exposure significantly increased the mortality and death rates of Atlantic salmon, when compared to uninfected controls and ISAv infected groups only. This was consistent over two source strains of Atlantic salmon (Pennobscot and Saint John River), but the severity and timing was altered. Immunological responses were also consistent in that pro-inflammatory genes were induced in lice only and co-infected fish, whereas the anti-viral response, Mx, MH class I ?, Galectin 9 and TRIM 16, 25 genes were down-regulated by lice infection prior to and shortly after co-infection with ISAv. It is concluded that the sea lice settlement on Atlantic salmon and the parasite's subsequent manipulation of the host's immune system, which increases parasite settlement success, also increased susceptibility to ISAv.
Project description:Age at maturity is a key life-history trait of most organisms. In anadromous salmonid fishes such as Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), age at sexual maturity is associated with sea age, the number of years spent at sea before the spawning migration. For the first time, we investigated the presence of two nonsynonymous vgll3 polymorphisms in North American Atlantic Salmon populations that relate to sea age in European salmon and quantified the natural variation at these and two additional candidate SNPs from two other genes. A targeted resequencing assay was developed and 1,505 returning adult individuals of size-inferred sea age and sex from four populations were genotyped. Across three of four populations sampled in Québec, Canada, the late-maturing component (MSW) of the population of a given sex exhibited higher proportions of SNP genotypes 54Thr vgll3 and 323Lys vgll3 compared to early-maturing fish (1SW), for example, 85% versus 53% of females from Trinité River carried 323Lys vgll3 (nMSW = 205 vs. n1SW = 30; p < .001). However, the association between vgll3 polymorphism and sea age was more pronounced in females than in males in the rivers we studied. Logistic regression analysis of vgll3 SNP genotypes revealed increased probabilities of exhibiting higher sea age for 54Thr vgll3 and 323Lys vgll3 genotypes compared to alternative genotypes, depending on population and sex. Moreover, individuals carrying the heterozygous vgll3 SNP genotypes were more likely (>66%) to be female. In summary, two nonsynonymous vgll3 polymorphisms were confirmed in North American populations of Atlantic Salmon and our results suggest that variation at those loci correlates with sea age and sex. Our results also suggest that this correlation varies among populations. Future work would benefit from a more balanced sampling and from adding data on juvenile riverine life stages to contrast our data.
Project description:An individual-based model was parameterized to explore the impact of a crustacean ectoparasite (sea louse, Lepeophtheirus salmonis & Caligus spp.) on migrating Atlantic salmon smolt. The model explores how environmental and intrinsic factors can modulate the effect of sea lice on survival, growth and maturation of Atlantic salmon at sea. Relative to other effects, the parasite infestation pressure from fish farms and the encounter process emerge as the most important parameters. Although small variations in parasite-induced mortality may be masked by variable environmental effects, episodes of high infestation pressure from fish farms should be observable in wild populations of Atlantic salmon if laboratory studies accurately reflect the physiological effects of sea lice. Increases in temperature in the model negatively influenced fish survival by affecting the development time of the parasite at a rate that was not compensated for by the growth of the host. Discharge from rivers was parameterized to increase migration speed and influenced parasite induced mortality by decreasing time spent in areas with increased infestation pressure. Initial size and growth of the host was inversely related to the impact of the parasite because of size-dependent parasite-induced mortality in the early phase of migration. Overall, the model illustrates how environmental factors modulate effects on the host population by impacting either the parasite load or the relative effect of the parasite. The results suggest that linking population-level effects to parasite infestation pressure across climatic and environmental gradients may be challenging without correctly accounting for these effects.
Project description: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'.