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.
- Epigenetic inheritance
- DNA methylation
- Salmo salar
Barreto, D., Garcia de Leaniz, C., Verspoor, E., Coulson, M., Sobolewska, H., & Consuegra, S. (2019). DNA methylation changes in the sperm of captive-reared fish: A route to epigenetic introgression in wild populations. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 36(10), 2205-2211. https://doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msz135