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

ivers to spawn. Occasionally, some end up in other locations and have to adapt, or evolve, to survive in a new habitat. In studying the genetics of populations in the North Fork Clearwater River in north-central Idaho and in the Swanson River of south-central Alaska, researchers noted similar, speedy rates of development -- a conserved trait that generally is not the case in rainbow trout, Thorgaard noted.

"We found that these two very distinct populations are using the same conserved variant of the same gene sequence to achieve this adaptation," Miller said. "We have not identified the exact gene or gene mutations, but we have identified a region of the genome that is very similar."

RAD gene-sequencing technology allowed the researchers to sort through the fish genomes -- rainbow trout populations have between 58 and 64 chromosomes -- until they isolated the gene variants, also known as mutations or alleles. "RAD gives us much better details with a much higher resolution on genetic markers than what we could ever see before," Thorgaard said.

"RAD is being applied widely in the field of fisheries genetics," Miller said. "This technology is having a huge impact on salmon genetics, for conservation, management and restoration."

The findings suggest that the same genetic method of adaptation may be used by other salmonids, which includes salmon, steelhead trout, char, freshwater whitefish and graylings. The gene variant found in the study may have arrived just in time for struggling fish populations, researchers said.

"The study suggests that the same genetic types that are associated with adaptation in one population may also be used by another experiencing similar conditions in another area," Thorgaard said. "This increases our understanding of how adaptation occurs and could help in characterizing populations for conservation purposes."

Potentially, Miller said, matching fish with the same genetic variants could
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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert  

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