Genomic variation underlying complex life-history traits revealed by genome sequencing in Chinook salmon


A broad portfolio of phenotypic diversity in natural organisms can buffer against exploitation and increase species persistence in disturbed ecosystems. The study of genomic variation that accounts for ecological and evolutionary adaptation can represent a powerful approach to extend understanding of phenotypic variation in nature. Here we present a chromosome-level reference genome assembly for Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha; 2.36 Gb) that enabled association mapping of life-history variation and phenotypic traits for this species. Whole-genome re-sequencing of populations with distinct life-history traits provided evidence that divergent selection was extensive throughout the genome within and among phylogenetic lineages, indicating that a broad portfolio of phenotypic diversity exists in this species that is related to local adaptation and life-history variation. Association mapping with millions of genome-wide SNPs revealed that a genomic region of major effect on chromosome 28 was associated with phenotypes for premature and mature arrival to spawning grounds and was consistent across three distinct phylogenetic lineages. Our results demonstrate how genomic resources can enlighten the genetic basis of known phenotypes in exploited species and assist in clarifying phenotypic variation that may be difficult to observe in naturally occurring organisms.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences