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Research article2016Peer reviewed

Effects of age and rearing environment on genetic parameters of growth and body weight and heritability of skin pigmentation in Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus L.)

Nilsson, Jan; Backström, Tobias; Stien, L.H.; Carlberg, Hanna; Jeuthe, Henrik; Magnhagen, Carin; Brännäs, Eva


The Swedish breeding programme for Arctic charr aims to improve traits that are important for farming. Selection has been ongoing since the 1980s, and the aim of this study was to re-estimate the genetic parameters in the selected population. In addition, the genetics of skin pigmentation was studied, as previous work indicated a relationship between pigmentation and the ability to cope with stress.One hundred twenty-five full sib families of Arctic charr were hatched and reared separately until they were individually tagged (n = 12,266). In connection with the tagging, three replicates were formed, which were subsequently reared at different sites. The genetic relationships were known from a seven-generation pedigree. Body weight and length were at one site measured at six occasions until 27 months old, and these measurements were used to estimate the DGC (daily growth coefficient) and condition factor. At a second site fish were measured at 21 and 27 months age and at a third site at 27 months age.Skin pigmentation was measured using image analysis. The final weight at 27 months of age varied widely between rearing sites, ranging from 529 g to 1443 g. Weight heritability differed among the sites, at 0.45, 0.11, and 0.07. At one of the sites, where growth was followed closely, weight heritability varied among growth periods, ranging from 0.01 to 0.25, and similar results were obtained for the DGC. In contrast, condition factor heritability did not show such pronounced variations within and among sites. The magnitude of the differences in heritability of weight and growth among different sites that was observed here was not observed previously with this charr population. In particular, the low heritability among the fastest growing fish is unprecedented. Skin pigmentation showed a high heritability of 0.76, indicating a strong additive genetic component. At most ages, pigmentation showed a weak positive genetic correlation with growth. The genotype environment interaction (GEI) was estimated using genetic correlations among sites. For the final weight, genetic correlations were high, indicating weak GEI, although the presence of GEI was suggested from the DGC data.Statement of relevance: The ms will impact charr breeding for commercial farming. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Arctic charr; Heritability; GxE interactions; Growth; Skin pigmentation; Aquaculture

Published in

2016, Volume: 453, pages: 67-72