What Genes Make Atlantic salmon in Tasmania Enter Puberty?

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By Milthon Lujan

Brisbane, Australia.- The practise of salmon farming promotes rapid growth in conditions which mean animals may enter maturation at weights below harvest size. When this occurs, the animals can become unsalable due to deterioration in product quality. This created the incentive for our team to explore the genes involved in the timing of maturation, to deepen our understanding of this fundamental developmental transformation.


In collaboration with our industry partner Saltas, the team collected genotypes from nearly 50,000 genetic loci in thousands of animals with maturation records for fish in either freshwater or the marine environment. We then attempted to map the genes which appear to control the timing of maturation.

Stringent treatment of the data identified a relatively small number of genomic regions that were significantly associated. Further, the majority of identified genes were different for freshwater and marine maturation. Interestingly, the two most strongly associated genes were the same for the two traits and both genes have been previously shown to have roles in sexual development. What the team did not expect to find was that males and females appear to behave differently, whereby both genes are associated with maturation in males but not in females from the same population.

The findings have been published in the journal BMC Genomics (2019, 20:139) and build on a growing body of literature described the genetics of this important production species. It will assist the team in the operation of the selective breeding program, owned by Saltas, which provides juveniles to the Australian Atlantic salmon industries.

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CSIRO Aquaculture contact
Dr James Kijas – Research Group Leader, Breeding and Genomics


Amin R. Mohamed, Klara L. Verbyla, Hawlader A. Al-Mamun, Sean McWilliam, Bradley Evans, Harry King, Peter Kube and James W. Kijas. Polygenic and sex specific architecture for two maturation traits in farmed Atlantic salmon. BMC Genomics201920:139. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-019-5525-4 https://bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12864-019-5525-4 

Source: CSIRO

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