Variation génétique et potentiel d'adaptation locale chez le saumon atlantique, Salmo salar. Structure de population, adaptation immunitaire et résistance aux pathogènes.
One of the central endeavors in evolutionary ecology is to understand the mechanisms responsible for natural biodiversity. Biodiversity is defined as the combined diversity of ecosystems, species, populations and the genetic diversity within a given species. Even within a species, a wide diversity of phenotypes and genotypes is often observed, resulting from the interaction between natural selection, gene flow, genetic drift and mutations. The central objective of this thesis was to assess the genetic variability and evaluate the potential for local adaptation in wild Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. Analyses of neutral molecular markers in 51 salmon rivers revealed a hierarchical genetic structure and suggested the existence of seven regional groups in Québec, Labrador and New-Brunswick, Canada. Landscape genetic analyses suggested a predominant influence of gene flow and thermal regime adaptation in maintaining genetic differentiation. Indirect evidence also suggested that immigrants from a different regional group were less successful in establishing in the new environment compared to residents. Different extents of genetic structure were also found within some river systems, questioning the river-based management approach in Atlantic salmon. Large scale genetic variability at an immuno-competence gene, the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class II? gene, revealed that genetic diversity increased with increasing temperature and bacterial diversity in rivers contrary to patterns with neutral microsatelite markers. This increase in MHC diversity with temperature was more pronounced at the peptide-binding region involved in pathogen binding than at other molecular sites. These results agree with the hypothesized influence of temperature-associated pathogen diversity on local adaptation in Atlantic salmon. Finally, pathogen infections in juvenile salmon were found to be more frequent at the beginning of the summer in southern rather than northern rivers, in concordance with pathogen selection pressure in the wild. A predominant and possibly introduced pathogen, a myxozoa of the genus Myxobolus, was identified in juvenile salmon and two MHC alleles were found to be associated with resistance and susceptibility to that infection, suggesting the importance of MHC standing genetic variation for facing pathogens in a changing environment. This thesis contributes to our understanding on mechanisms maintaining genetic variability and influencing local adaptation in wild Atlantic salmon through analyses in landscape genetics, genetic population structure and patterns of spatio-temporal infectivity in nature.
Advisor:Bernatchez, Louis; Dodson, Julian J.
School Location:Canada - Quebec / Québec
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:12/01/2008