As with any other intensively farmed animal species, the Atlantic salmon has been selectively bred and cross-bred to maximize desirable traits. Selection tends to diminish genetic diversity in target populations, which among other negative effects is hypothesized to decrease their capacity to confront a broad variety of pathogens. We have analyzed mitochondrial (mtDNA) as well as major histocompatibility complex (MHC) DNA sequences from individuals collected from a single aquaculture cage in southern Chile. Interestingly, only two mtDNA haplotypes were obtained; however, several different MH alleles were detected, with divergence values that were compared with those of natural populations of salmonids. Thus, it seems evolutionary processes responsible of keeping MH diversity in the wild managed to retain MH variability in farmed Atlantic salmon, maintaining high immune diversity despite the generally lower levels of observed neutral genetic diversity.
- Atlantic salmon
- Class II alpha
- Disease resistance
- Major histocompatibility complex
- Salmo salar