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Discovery and validation of candidate smoltification gene expression biomarkers across multiple species and ecotypes of Pacific salmonids.


ABSTRACT: Early marine survival of juvenile salmon is intimately associated with their physiological condition during smoltification and ocean entry. Smoltification (parr-smolt transformation) is a developmental process that allows salmon to acquire seawater tolerance in preparation for marine living. Traditionally, this developmental process has been monitored using gill Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA) activity or plasma hormones, but gill gene expression offers the possibility of another method. Here, we describe the discovery of candidate genes from gill tissue for staging smoltification using comparisons of microarray studies with particular focus on the commonalities between anadromous Rainbow trout and Sockeye salmon datasets, as well as a literature comparison encompassing more species. A subset of 37 candidate genes mainly from the microarray analyses was used for TaqMan quantitative PCR assay design and their expression patterns were validated using gill samples from four groups, representing three species and two ecotypes: Coho salmon, Sockeye salmon, stream-type Chinook salmon and ocean-type Chinook salmon. The best smoltification biomarkers, as measured by consistent changes across these four groups, were genes involved in ion regulation, oxygen transport and immunity. Smoltification gene expression patterns (using the top 10 biomarkers) were confirmed by significant correlations with NKA activity and were associated with changes in body brightness, caudal fin darkness and caudal peduncle length. We incorporate gene expression patterns of pre-smolt, smolt and de-smolt trials from acute seawater transfers from a companion study to develop a preliminary seawater tolerance classification model for ocean-type Chinook salmon. This work demonstrates the potential of gene expression biomarkers to stage smoltification and classify juveniles as pre-smolt, smolt or de-smolt.

SUBMITTER: Houde ALS 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6788492 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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