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Keywords:

  • alternative reproductive tactics;
  • genetically modified organisms;
  • growth hormone transgenesis;
  • introgression;
  • precocially mature male parr;
  • reproduction

Abstract

Growth hormone (GH) transgenic Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is one of the first transgenic animals being considered for commercial farming, yet ecological and genetic concerns remain should they enter the wild and interact reproductively with wild fish. Here, we provide the first empirical data reporting on the breeding performance of GH transgenic Atlantic salmon males, including that of an alternative male reproductive phenotype (i.e. small, precocially mature parr), in pair-wise competitive trials within a naturalised stream mesocosm. Wild anadromous (i.e. large, migratory) males outperformed captively reared transgenic counterparts in terms of nest fidelity, quivering frequency and spawn participation. Similarly, despite displaying less aggression, captively reared nontransgenic mature parr were superior competitors to their transgenic counterparts in terms of nest fidelity and spawn participation. Moreover, nontransgenic parr had higher overall fertilisation success than transgenic parr, and their offspring were represented in more spawning trials. Although transgenic males displayed reduced breeding performance relative to nontransgenics, both male reproductive phenotypes demonstrated the ability to participate in natural spawning events and thus have the potential to contribute genes to subsequent generations.