Does Domestication Cause Changes in Growth Reaction Norms? A Study of Farmed, Wild and Hybrid Atlantic Salmon Families Exposed to Environmental Stress

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Abstract

One of the most important traits linked with the successful domestication of animals is reducing their sensitivity to environmental stressors in the human controlled environment. In order to examine whether domestication selection in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar L., over approximately ten generations, has inadvertently selected for reduced responsiveness to stress, we compared the growth reaction norms of 29 wild, hybrid and domesticated families reared together under standard hatchery conditions (control) and in the presence of a stressor (reduced water level twice daily). The experiment was conducted for a 14 week period. Farmed salmon outgrew wild salmon 1:2.93 in the control tanks, and no overlap in mean weight was displayed between families representing the three groups. Thus, the elevation of the reaction norms differed among the groups. Overall, growth was approximately 25% lower in the stressed tanksl; however, farmed salmon outgrew wild salmon 1:3.42 under these conditions. That farmed salmon maintained a relatively higher growth rate than the wild salmon in the stressed tanks demonstrates a lower responsiveness to stress in the farmed salmon. Thus, flatter reaction norm slopes were displayed in the farmed salmon, demonstrating reduced plasticity for this trait under these specific experimental conditions. For all growth measurements, hybrid salmon displayed intermediate values. Wild salmon displayed higher heritability estimates for body weight than the hybrid and farmed salmon in both environments. This suggests reduced genetic variation for body weight in the farmed contra wild salmon studied here. While these results may be linked to the specific families and stocks investigated, and verification in other stocks and traits is needed, these data are consistent with the theoretical predictions of domestication. © 2013 Solberg et al.

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Solberg, M. F., Skaala, Ø., Nilsen, F., & Glover, K. A. (2013). Does Domestication Cause Changes in Growth Reaction Norms? A Study of Farmed, Wild and Hybrid Atlantic Salmon Families Exposed to Environmental Stress. PLoS ONE, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0054469

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