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Transcriptional shifts during juvenile Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) life stage changes in freshwater and early marine environments

Houde, Aimee Lee S., Schulze, Angela D., Kaukinen, Karia H., Strohm, Jeffrey, Patterson, David A., Beacham, Terry D., Farrell, Anthony P., Hinch, Scott G., Miller, Kristina M.
Comparative biochemistry and physiology 2019 v.29 pp. 32-42
Oncorhynchus kisutch, animal tissues, autumn, body length, brain, fasting, freshwater, gene expression regulation, gills, juveniles, liver, marine environment, microarray technology, muscles, parr, salmon, spring, summer, transcription (genetics), transcriptome
There is a paucity of information on the physiological changes that occur over the course of salmon early marine migration. Here we aim to provide insight on juvenile Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) physiology using the changes in gene expression (cGRASP 44K microarray) of four tissues (brain, gill, muscle, and liver) across the parr to smolt transition in freshwater and through the first eight months of ocean residence. We also examined transcriptome changes with body size as a covariate. The strongest shift in the transcriptome for brain, gill, and muscle occurred between summer and fall in the ocean, representing physiological changes that we speculate may be associated with migration preparation to feeding areas. Metabolic processes in the liver were positively associated with body length, generally consistent with enhanced feeding opportunities. However, a notable exception to this metabolic pattern was for spring post-smolts sampled soon after entry into the ocean, which showed a pattern of gene expression more likely associated with depressed feeding or recent fasting. Overall, this study has revealed life stages that may be the most critical developmentally (fall post-smolt) and for survival (spring post-smolt) in the early marine environment. These life stages may warrant further investigation.