April 18, 2016
Vancouver, BC – As of today all salmon genes, and thus opportunities to ensure sustainable farming and wild salmon management, is just a mouse click away. “The Atlantic salmon genome provides insights into rediploidization” released today in the prestigious Nature journal, includes input from the University of Victoria’s Dr. Ben Koop and Dr. Willie Davidson of Simon Fraser University.
The publication notably characterizes a Whole Genome Duplication (WGD) event (a ‘mutation’) that occurred 80 million years ago, the fourth in the salmonid lineage, and the fate of duplicated genes. Following a period of genomic instability the genome is returning to its original state though vestiges of the duplication remain today.
“The complexity of salmonids stems from the rare WGD which doubles their genes and provides them with a unique opportunity to dramatically expand the interaction of genes and their environment”, says Dr. Ben Koop, Professor, Biology/Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Victoria and Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Molecular Biology. “This natural experiment has some amazing successes and some interesting unique adaptations.”
This research is providing new insights into genome evolution and the lasting legacy of the work is a high (‘human’) quality sequence of the Atlantic salmon genome which is now available on the internet. The Atlantic salmon genome is 2.97 gigabases in size and contains 37,000 genes across 29 chromosomes, and is similar in size to the human genome. We can now bring the technologies and applications developed for humans to bear on wild and farmed salmon around the world.
This work was enabled through the International Cooperation to Sequence the Atlantic Salmon Genome (ICSASG). This project is an international collaboration of some of the foremost experts in Canada, Chile, and Norway to provide a reference genome sequence and an atlas of genes that gives a whole new scientific baseline from which to improve and understand fisheries, conservation, ecology, physiology, evolution and aquaculture for over 70 economically, culturally and environmentally important salmonid species.
“The Atlantic salmon’s genome has already enabled a refinement of the rainbow trout genome and is providing a framework for sequencing and assembling the genomes of other salmonids, such as Coho salmon and Arctic charr”, says Dr. Willie Davidson, Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University. “The completion of the Atlantic salmon’s genome allows this species to take its place beside domesticated animals (e.g., cattle, sheep, pig, chicken) whose genomes are being used routinely to enhance livestock production”.
“This publication is a testament to the successful partnership of the ICSASG: they have unraveled the extreme complexity of this species’ genome, generated significant amounts of new knowledge and addressed many technological hurdles” says Dr. Alan Winter, President and CEO of Genome British Columbia. “The collaboration leaves behind a legacy that will benefit research and sustainable development of this economically and environmentally important species in Canada, Norway and Chile and other countries for years to come.”
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