Abstracts (first author)
A genome-wide association study (GWAS) of age at maturity in Atlantic salmon: implications for conservation and management
In wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), there is variation in the age at maturity within and between populations, as individuals can spend anywhere between one and five years feeding at sea before returning, often to their natal river, to spawn. The larger, late-maturing ‘multi-sea winter’ (MSW) individuals that have spent multiple years at sea prior to maturation are highly sought after by anglers. This life-history strategy has also been shown to be important from a biodiversity perspective, thus creating a management conflict. Knowledge of the genetic basis of age at maturity would provide a foundation for developing effective management strategies for conservation of this important life-history trait. The Atlantic salmon population of the Teno River in northern Finland is arguably the most biodiverse salmon population in the world from a life history strategy perspective, with more than 100 different life history strategies (combinations of river years, years at sea and repeat spawning) being recorded. It also has immense socioeconomic importance, both due to fishing tourism (15,000 anglers visit this remote region annually) as well as local and indigenous fisheries, with up to 60,000 individuals (60% of the annual run of ascending salmon) caught annually. Alarmingly, the proportion of late-maturing MSW fish has been declining in recent decades. A long term scale archive combined with the availability of an Atlantic salmon 7K Illumina® iSelect SNP-array provided an opportunity to conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify genomic regions associated with age at maturity. By implementing genome-wide relatedness information to account for unexpected population structure, we identified several genomic regions harbouring loci significantly associated with age at maturity. The implications of the findings for conducting GWAS in wild populations, as well as for the practical management and conservation of exploited salmon populations will be presented.
Annotated genes and non-annotated genomes: use of model organism gene annotation information for understanding the molecular basis of traits of ecological and evolutionary importancePDF
Recent advances in molecular technologies have opened up unprecedented opportunities for evolutionary biologists and ecologists to better understand the molecular basis of traits of ecological and evolutionary importance in almost any organism. Nevertheless, reliable and systematic inference of functionally relevant information from these masses of data remains challenging. In my poster, I will highlight how the Gene Ontology (GO) database can be of use in meeting this challenge. The GO provides a largely species-neutral source of information on the molecular function, biological role and cellular location of tens of thousands of gene products. As it is designed to be species neutral, the GO is well suited for cross-species use i.e. functional annotation derived from model organisms can be transferred to inferred orthologs in newly sequenced species. In other words, the GO can provide gene annotation information for species with non-annotated genomes. I will highlight the both the strengths and the current weaknesses of using GO for enhancing the understanding of molecular function in ecologically relevant species and present some examples of its use for evolutionary contexts