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New Genes: Evaluation of Genetic Variation in Stofnfiskur Domesticated Atlantic Salmon imported to British Columbia



Domesticated fish strains lose genetic variation through founder effects, genetic drift and selection. The Norwegian breeding programs for Atlantic salmon have generally been based on large numbers of broodstock and pedigree-managed family selection. Nevertheless, the loss of variation at microsatellite loci in these strains averages close to 40%, attributed primarily to founder effects early in domestication (Norris et al. 1999, Skaala et al. under review). This reduction in variability pre-dated importation of the Mowi fish to BC. At least two companies in the BC industry are importing Atlantic salmon from a managed breeding program in Iceland, with the hope of basing future production on the Icelandic strain or incorporating genetic material from it into existing broodstocks. However, the Stofnfiskur strain, like the BC Mowi strain, was established with domesticated Norwegian salmon that had already lost some genetic variation and its performance record under BC environmental conditions has yet to be established. A molecular analysis of the imported fish will be help determine the level of variation in the Icelandic strain and its level of differentiation from existing BC strains. In this study, we will assess samples of the Stofnfiskur strain for variability at the same eleven microsatellite and two MHC genes that we have surveyed in the BC strains. We will provide an evaluation of the level of diversity that has been maintained in this strain and its genetic relationship with the strains already present in the BC industry. This information, combined with the performance results obtained by the importing companies on the same fish, will allow the BC industry to make an informed decision on how much genetic gain it might obtain through use of the Stofnfiskur strain.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2004 - 2006


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Ruth Withler

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