The genetic basis of flesh quality traits in farmed Atlantic salmon
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The aim was to develop new methods for measuring texture of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) fillets and investigate the genetic basis of flesh quality traits. Firstly, a new tensile strength method was developed to quantify the force required to tear a standardized block of salmon muscle with the aim of identifying those samples more prone to factory downgrading as a result of gaping. The repeatability, sensitivity and predictability of the new technique was evaluated against other common instrumental texture measurement methods. Data from the new method were shown to have the strongest correlations with gaping severity r=-0.514, P<0.001) and the highest level of repeatability of data when analysing cold-smoked samples. The Warner Bratzler shear method gave the most repeatable data from fresh samples and had the highest correlations between fresh and smoked product from the same fish (r=0.811, P<0.001). It is therefore recommended that the new method be adopted for measuring gaping potential and the Warner Bratzler method become the standard for firmness assessment. Genes associated with post mortem softening in mammals were characterised in Atlantic salmon. A previously unknown ancient paralogue of calpastatin (here named CAST2) was identified. Evidence was provided for the existence of highly homologous recent paralogues of CAST2 and CTSD1. Evidence for the ancestral history of these paralogues was provided by phylogenetic analysis. Recent gene duplicates of 6 further genes were identified. In all cases, homology between recent paralogues was greater than 94%. Analysis of synonymous vs non-synonymous nucleotide substitution between the observed paralogue pairs shows a significant purifying selection in most cases. The CTSD1 gene shows significant purifying selection in a pairwise analysis between 12 teleost species (all cases P<0.0001) but a similar analysis of CTSD2 revealed no significant occurrence of purifying selection. The present study provides further support for the idea of asymmetrical selective pressure on paralogues. Genetic markers were developed that can distinguish individuals with above average fillet yield and texture. A database of firmness, tensile strength and fillet yield was made from 254 individuals from 5 batches of farmed salmon and these fish were genotyped at 7 novel SNP loci. Individuals with the combined favourable genotype at CAPN1a and MYOD1b were associated with an average increase in fillet yield of 2.7% above batch average. A combined genotype of CAPN1a, MYOD1b and MYF5 was significantly associated with an average increase in tensile strength of 9.8% above batch average (P=0.015). In both cases individuals with the combined favourable genotype occurred with a frequency of c. 6% across all batches. The favourable genotypes had no unfavourable effects on other traits. Highly polymorphic microsatellite loci were used to perform tests of assignment, which revealed an overall correct assignment rate of 92.7% to batch of origin and a minimum reference sample number of 25 was empirically determined. A phylogenetic analysis supported the results of the assignment tests. Given that 7 microsatellites is a relatively small number for a study of this nature, these results suggest that reliable assignment of unknown fish to the true batch of origin is potentially rapid and cost effective. Overall, the thesis presents molecular markers for broodstock selection, new genes of relevance to flesh quality, a new method of texture analysis and a proposal for an escapee traceability project.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 21st November 2014. (Restriction now expired. Awaiting final permissions to release or further restrict full text.)
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations