DNA methylation changes in the sperm of captive-reared fish: A route to epigenetic introgression in wild populations

Deiene Barreto, Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, Eric Verspoor, Mark Coulson, Halina Sobolewska, Sonia Consuegra

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Interbreeding between hatchery-reared and wild fish, through deliberate stocking or escapes from fish farms, can result in rapid phenotypic and gene expression changes in hybrids, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. We assessed if one generation of captive breeding was sufficient to generate transgenerational epigenetic modifications in Atlantic salmon. We found that the sperm of wild and captive-reared males differed in methylated regions which were consistent with early epigenetic signatures of domestication. Some of the epigenetic marks that differed between hatchery and wild males affected genes related to transcription, neural development, olfaction and aggression, and were maintained in the offspring beyond developmental reprogramming. Our findings suggest that rearing in captivity may trigger epigenetic modifications in the sperm of hatchery fish that could explain the rapid phenotypic and genetic changes observed among hybrid fish. Epigenetic introgression via fish sperm represents a previously unappreciated mechanism that could compromise locally adapted fish populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2205-2211
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number10
Early online date10 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019



  • Epigenetic inheritance
  • DNA methylation
  • domestication
  • Salmo salar

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