Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Studying Genetic differences between wild and domesticated Salmon

 Scientists from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and Texas Christian University recently looked at the genetic differences between Pacific salmon raised in hatcheries and wild salmon in Alaska.  Salmon are raised in hatcheries in order to supplement wild populations.  The issue with hatcheries is that it can cause domestication selection, which causes the fish to adapt to the conditions of the hatchery.  These conditions do not line up with the ones out in the wild.  The concern is that hatchery salmon released out into the wild may interbreed with wild salmon and pass on unfit traits.  For example, hatchery salmon tend to lack predator avoidance behavior, which is critical out in the wild.  The study found that hatchery salmon are differing genetically from wild salmon populations.  The study lays important groundwork for genomic sequencing in salmon for future studies.  This will help to prevent substantial divergence between hatchery and wild salmon.

I never considered the potential for genetic differences to affect wild fish population through the introduction of hatchery fish.  This study reminds me of how with certain animals living in zoos and aquariums, they can't survive out in the wild because they've been raised to get food from humans.  With human care, animals raised in captivity would die out in the wild.  However that relates to learned behavior of the animal.  What's fascinating with this study is that it's the genetic code of the animals affecting their fitness to survive out in the wild.  I hope that further research can be done to prevent significant genetic differences between hatchery fish and salmon out in the wild.

Article Link:

Article on Genomic Sequencing:

1 comment:

  1. This is extremely interesting! The issue of hatchery raised fish breeding with wild fish and contributing to poor genetics and unfit offspring is one that I think is important. It is cool to see that one way to address this problem is through ensuring that hatchery raised fish are more genetically similar to their wild counterparts. I think this technique could be useful to fisheries managers if they are trying to increase brood stock numbers. On the other hand if they are simply stocking so that recreational anglers can have increased opportunities to catch fish I think it would be cool to see if fisheries managers could come up with a better solution such as releasing genetically modified sterile fish.