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Rapid parallel evolutionary changes of gene transcription profiles in farmed Atlantic salmon


Christian Roberge, Fax: 1-418-656-7176; E-mail:


Farmed salmon strains have been selected to improve growth rates as well as other traits of commercial interest but the 2 million farmed salmon escaping annually may enhance the risk of extinction of wild populations through genetic and ecological interactions. Here, we compare the transcription profiles of 3557 genes in the progeny of farmed and wild Atlantic salmon from Norway and Canada grown in controlled conditions, and demonstrate that five to seven generations of artificial selection led to heritable changes in gene transcription profiles, the average magnitude of the differences being 25% and 18% for at least 1.4% and 1.7% of the expressed genes in juvenile salmon from Norway and Canada, respectively. Moreover, genes showing significant transcription profile differences in both farmed strains (16%) all exhibited parallel changes. These findings, along with the identification of several genes whose expression profiles were modified through artificial selection, provide new insights into the molecular basis of parallel evolution, and suggest how gene flow from farmed escapees may affect the genetic integrity of wild populations.