Identification of genetic markers associated with Gyrodactylus salaris resistance in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar

John Gilbey, Eric Verspoor, Tor Atle Mo, Erik Sterud, Kjetil Olstad, Sigurd Hytterod, Catherine Jones, Leslie Noble

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55 Citations (Scopus)


Gyrodactylus salaris Malmberg, 1957 is a freshwater monogenean ectoparasite of salmonids, first recorded in Norway in 1975 and responsible for extensive epizootics in wild Atlantic salmon Salmo salar L. The sceptibility of different populations of Atlantic salmon to G. salaris infection differs markedly, with fish from the Baltic being characterised as relatively resistant whereas those from Norway or Scotland are known to be (extremely) susceptible. Resistance to Gyrodactylus infection in salmonids has been found to be heritable and a polygenic mechanism of control has been hypothesised. The current study utilises a ‘Quantitative trait loci’ (QTL) screening approach in order to identify molecular markers linked to QTL influencing G. salaris resistance in B1 backcrosses of Baltic and Scottish salmon. Infection patterns in these fish exhibited 3 distinct types; susceptible (exponential parasite growth), responding (parasite load builds before dropping) and resistant (para-site load never increases). B1 backcross fish were screened at 39 microsatellite markers and single marker-trait associations were examined using general linear modelling. We identified 10 genomic regions associated with heterogeneity in both innate and acquired resistance, explaining up to 27.3% of the total variation in parasite loads. We found that both innate and acquired parasite resistance in Atlantic salmon are under polygenic control, and that salmon would be well suited to a selection programme designed to quickly increase resistance to G. salaris in wild or farmed stocks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
JournalDiseases of Aquatic Organisms
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2006


  • Gyrodactylus salaris
  • Atlantic salmon
  • resistance
  • linkage mapping
  • quantitative trait loci


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