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Validation and Association of Candidate Markers for Adult Migration Timing and Fitness in Chinook Salmon

Jun 9, 2020


Recent studies have begun to elucidate the genetic basis for phenotypic traits in salmonid species, but many questions remain before these candidate genes can be directly incorporated into conservation management. In Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), a region of major effect for migration timing has been discovered that harbors two adjacent candidate genes (greb1L, rock1), but there has been limited work to examine the association between these genes and migratory phenotypes at the individual, compared to the population, level. To provide a more thorough test of individual phenotypic association within lineages of Chinook Salmon, 33 candidate markers were developed across a 220 Kb region on chromosome 28 previously associated with migration timing. Candidate and neutral markers were genotyped in individuals from representative collections that exhibit phenotypic variation in timing of arrival to spawning grounds from each of three lineages of Chinook Salmon. Association tests confirmed the majority of markers on chromosome 28 were significantly associated with arrival timing and the strongest association was consistently observed for markers within the rock1 gene and the intergenic region between greb1L and rock1. Candidate markers alone explained a wide range of phenotypic variation for Lower Columbia and Interior ocean‐type lineages (29% and 78%, respectively), but less for the Interior stream‐type lineage (5%). Individuals that were heterozygous at markers within or upstream of rock1 had phenotypes that suggested a pattern of dominant inheritance for early arrival across populations. Finally, previously published fitness estimates from the Interior stream‐type lineage enabled tests of association with arrival timing and two candidate markers, which revealed that fish with homozygous mature genotypes had slightly higher fitness than fish with premature genotypes, while heterozygous fish were intermediate. Overall, these results provide additional information for individual‐level genetic variation associated with arrival timing that may assist with conservation management of this species.



Koch, I.J. and S.R. Narum. 2020. Validation and association of candidate markers for adult migration timing and fitness in Chinook Salmon. Evolutionary Applications 13(9):2316-2332. Online at



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Journal Article