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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Variation in phenotypic plasticity across age-at-maturity genotypes in wild Atlantic salmon

Raunsgard, Astrid; Persson, Lo; Czorlich, Yann; Ugedal, Ola; Thorstad, Eva B.; Karlsson, Sten; Fiske, Peder; Bolstad, Geir H.


Evolution of phenotypic plasticity requires genotype-environment interaction. The discovery of two large-effect loci in the vgll3 and six6 genomic regions associated with the number of years the Atlantic salmon spend feeding at sea before maturation (sea age), provides a unique opportunity to study evolutionary potential of phenotypic plasticity. Using data on 1246 Atlantic salmon caught in the River Surna in Norway, we show that variation in mean sea age among years (smolt cohorts 2013-2018) is influenced by genotype frequencies as well as interaction effects between genotype and year. Genotype-year interactions suggest that genotypes may differ in their response to environmental variation across years, implying genetic variation in phenotypic plasticity. Our results also imply that plasticity in sea age will evolve as an indirect response to selection on mean sea age due to a shared genetic basis. Furthermore, we demonstrate differences between years in the additive and dominance functional genetic effects of vgll3 and six6 on sea age, suggesting that evolutionary responses will vary across environments. Considering the importance of age at maturity for survival and reproduction, genotype-environment interactions likely play an important role in local adaptation and population demography in Atlantic salmon.


age at maturity; Atlantic salmon; genetic variation; phenotypic plasticity

Published in

Molecular Ecology
2024, Volume: 33, number: 3, article number: e17229Publisher: WILEY