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Genetic buzzer-beater genes may save fish
Date:11/29/2011

EUGENE, Ore. -- Two distinct populations of rainbow trout -- one in Alaska, the other in Idaho -- share a genetic trait that could have huge implications for fisheries conservation and management, an eight-member research team reports.

The common trait is a similar rapid rate of development that has allowed these different salmomid subspecies to adapt to their native rivers in Alaska and Idaho. The researchers, in a paper put online ahead of publication in the journal Molecular Ecology, say the similarity, a gene variant, resides in a specific portion of their genomes from where this local adaptation is triggered.

Understanding and applying that knowledge could help guide current and future efforts to save species on the brink of extinction and help rejuvenate dwindling populations, especially as changing conditions alter fish environments, says lead author Michael R. Miller, a National Science Foundation-funded doctoral student in the University of Oregon lab of co-author Chris Doe, a UO biologist and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

The research employed two technologies developed at the UO: the cloning technology pioneered on zebra fish 35 years ago by molecular biologist George Streisinger and a speedy genome-analysis tool known as RAD (restriction-site associated DNA markers). Miller and UO biologist Eric Johnson, with input from William Cresko, also a UO biologist, published their initial RAD-tagging technique in 2005.

The clone lines of rainbow trout used in the study were provided by co-author Gary H. Thorgaard, a fish geneticist at Washington State University. He had worked briefly as a postdoctoral researcher with Streisinger in 1978 to learn about a then-developing zebra-fish cloning technique later detailed in a 1981 Nature paper.

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are members of the salmon family. They have a natal homing instinct in which they return to their native streams or r
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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert  

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