Genetically Based Effects of Domesticated-Wild Outbreeding in Atlantic Salmon
Debes, Paul V.
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Rapid advances in the aquaculture industry pose an environmental challenge that is generated by outbreeding between escaped domesticated and wild individuals. Given that escapees genetically differ from wild individuals because of domestication and possibly by ancestry, periodic domesticated-wild outbreeding has the potential to influence fitness-related traits in wild populations. In Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), the understanding of mechanisms and direction of domesticated influences are especially important because of the conservation concerns associated with many wild populations, notably in the southern parts of their North Atlantic range. My thesis investigates domestication-induced, genetically based changes during the parr stage by assessing growth, parr maturity and survival under predation for three salmon strains differing in their history of domestication, as examined in two semi-natural environments (predator present, absent). Growth and size-at-age increased with increasing generations of domestication, yet male parr maturation probability declined. Survival under gape-limited predation increased with domestication-conveyed increases in size and growth rate. Domesticated but not wild individuals exhibited stress-resistant growth in the presence of a predator. To assess mechanism and magnitudes of trait changes resulting from domesticated-wild outbreeding, a domesticated strain was crossed with a wild population (up to third-generation hybrids) and outbreeding effects were studied for different life stages, several controlled environmental laboratory conditions, and traits. Life stages included the developmental periods between egg and fry, and between immature and adult post smolts. Traits assessed included survival, yolk conversion efficiency, size-at-age, maturation probability, growth rate, mRNA transcript levels and their environmental plasticity. For many traits, both additive and non-additive genetic components in the between-population genetic architecture were revealed by cross means analyses. Furthermore, maternal outbreeding effects on early life stages were present. Altogether the results indicate that constant outbreeding effects of escapees on wild populations will increase present growth rates during all life stages and decrease early maturation probabilities for male parr and post-smolts, but by unpredictable magnitudes across hybrid generations. Maternally controlled co-adapted traits might be disrupted in hybrid mothers. Further, mixed-origin individuals might be temporarily at an advantage relative to wild individuals because of size and growth advantages and these might accelerate a wild genotypes displacement.