Stocking impacts the expression of candidate genes and physiological condition in introgressed brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis) populations



Fabien C. Lamaze, Département de Biologie, Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes (IBIS), Université Laval, 1030 avenue de la Médecine, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada.

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Translocation of plants and animal populations between environments is one of the major forms of anthropogenic perturbation experienced by pristine populations, and consequently, human-mediated hybridization by stocking practices between wild and exogenous conspecifics is of increasing concern. In this study, we compared the expression of seven candidate genes involved in multifactorial traits and regulatory pathways for growth as a function of level of introgressive hybridization between wild and domestic brook charr to test the null hypothesis of no effect of introgression on wild fish. Our analyses revealed that the expression of two of the genes tested, cytochrome c oxidase VIIa and the growth hormone receptor isoform I, was positively correlated with the level of introgression. We also observed a positive relationship between the extent of introgression and physiological status quantified by the Fulton's condition index. The expression of other genes was influenced by other variables, including year of sampling (reflecting different thermal conditions), sampling method and lake of origin. This is the first demonstration in nature that introgression from stocked populations has an impact on the expression of genes playing a role in important biological functions that may be related with fitness in wild introgressed populations.