Discovery and functional annotation of quantitative trait loci affecting resistance to sea lice in Atlantic salmon

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Diego RobledoJosé M Yáñez


Sea lice (Caligus rogercresseyi) are ectoparasitic copepods which have a large negative economic and welfare impact in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) aquaculture, particularly in Chile. A multi-faceted prevention and control strategy is required to tackle lice, and selective breeding contributes via cumulative improvement of host resistance to the parasite. While host resistance has been shown to be heritable, little is yet known about the individual loci that contribute to this resistance, the potential underlying genes, and their mechanisms of action. In this study we took a multifaceted approach to identify and characterise quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting hose resistance in a population of 2,688 Caligus-challenged Atlantic salmon post-smolts from a commercial breeding programme. We used low and medium density genotyping to collect genome-wide SNP marker data for all animals. Moderate heritablility estimates of 0.28 and 0.24 were obtained for lice density (as a measure of host resistance) and growth during infestation respectively. Three QTL explaining between 7 and 13 % of the genetic variation in resistance to sea lice (as represented by the traits of lice density) were detected on chromosomes 3, 18 and 21. Character...Continue Reading

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