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Physiol Genomics. 2011 Jun 15;43(11):685-96. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00008.2011. Epub 2011 Apr 5.

Identification of genes associated with heat tolerance in Arctic charr exposed to acute thermal stress.

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1
Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

Abstract

Arctic charr is an especially attractive aquaculture species given that it features the desirable tissue traits of other salmonids and is bred and grown at inland freshwater tank farms year round. It is of interest to develop upper temperature tolerant (UTT) strains of Arctic charr to increase the robustness of the species in the face of climate change and to enable production in more southern regions. We used a genomics approach that takes advantage of the well-studied Atlantic salmon genome to identify genes that are associated with UTT in Arctic charr. Specifically, we conducted an acute temperature trial to identify temperature tolerant and intolerant Arctic charr individuals, which were subject to microarray and qPCR analysis to identify candidate UTT genes. These were compared with genes annotated in a quantitative trait locus (QTL) region that was previously identified as associated with UTT in rainbow trout and Arctic charr and that we sequenced in Atlantic salmon. Our results suggest that small heat shock proteins as well as HSP-90 genes are associated with UTT. Furthermore, hemoglobin expression was significantly downregulated in tolerant compared with intolerant fish. Finally, QTL analysis and expression profiling identified COUP-TFII as a candidate UTT gene, although its specific role is unclear given the identification of two transcripts, which appear to have different expression patterns. Our results highlight the importance of using more than one approach to identify candidate genes, particularly when examining a complicated trait such as UTT in a highly complex genome for which there is no reference genome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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