Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7460
Title: Quantitative genetics of migration related traits in rainbow and steelhead trout
Author: Benjamin C. Hecht, Jeffrey J. Hard, Frank P. Thrower, Krista M. Nichols
Publication Year: 2015
Journal: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Volume: 5
Issue: 5
Pages: 873-889
DOI: 10.1534/g3.114.016469 (Published online 2015 Mar 16)
Keywords: genetic correlation,heritability,maturation,migration,smoltification,

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) exhibit remarkable life history diversity throughout their native range and among the most evident is variation in migratory propensity. While some populations and ecotypes will remain resident in freshwater habitats throughout their life history, others have the ability to undertake tremendous marine migrations. Those that migrate undergo a suite of behavioral, morphological, and physiological adaptations in a process called smoltification. We describe a quantitative genetic analysis of 22 growth, size, and morphological traits in addition to overall life history classification (resident or migrant) over the temporal process of smoltification in a large multi-generation experimental pedigree (n=16,139) of migratory and resident rainbow trout derived from a wild population, which naturally segregates for migratory propensity. We identify significant additive genetic variance and covariance among the suite of traits that make up a component of the migratory syndrome in this species. Additionally we identify high heritability estimates for the life history classifications and observe a strong negative genetic correlation between the migratory and resident life history trajectories. Given the large heritability estimates of all of the traits that segregate between migratory and resident rainbow trout, we conclude that these traits can respond to selection. However, given the high degree of genetic correlation between these traits, they do not evolve in isolation, but rather as a suite of coordinated characters in a predictable manner.

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Theme: Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
Foci: Characterize the population biology of species, and develop and improve methods for predicting the status of populations.