ASF #147

I just came back from the American Fisheries Society conference in Tampa, Florida. This is one of the biggest conferences in fishery sciences- if not the biggest. At times we had 20 concurrent sessions on topics like fish migration, hatchery management practices, outreach, how to deal with lion fish invasions, imperiled aquatic species, and Darwinian selection. I presented my ongoing study on non-genetic paternal effects in salmonids at the Imperiled Aquatic Species and Genomics Symposium that was organized by Andrew Whiteley. The whole second day I spent at the Redefine Darwinian Fisheries Symposium (check out tweet here!).

@fishteph’s current group was represented by Stephanie Carlson, Sébastien Nusslé, Laura Härkönen, Suzanne Kelson, Jordan Wingenroth and I. We stayed at the Mariott Hotel right on the venue. We enjoyed ourselves a lot. Due to the close proximity we could engage in discussions and presentations with quick breaks at our rooms. Tampa was very hot and humid. Sometimes we just needed a quick dress change or two minutes of quiet time alone. Luckily, the hotel also had a spectacular pool.

I tried to get most out of the conference and went to social mixers, poster sessions, selected talks, networking events and the early morning spawning run. Gayle Zydlewski gave me, Louise Chavarie (@louisechavarie) and Lauren Laing (@LaurenVELaing) some good advice for our next career steps.

I want to highlight the great research of a few very nice researchers I met at this conference. Sarah Fitzpatrick is studying genetic rescue in guppies (her website). With a very intense field experiment and a lot of sequencing she could show that hybrids resulting from an experimental mix of two small and distinct populations in Trinidad (that differ mostly in predation rates) had a much higher fitness even after 10 generations of mixing. This mix of populations is called ‘genetic rescue’ and could be applied to many small and endangered species. Mark Christie is applying *omics approaches to answer very interesting questions in salmon evolutionary history. He proved that one generation in a hatchery caused very strong selection on gene expression. Traits are selected that help the fish to cope better with the hatchery environment. He also studies steelheads that had been transferred from the Pacific to the Great Lakes in Michigan. They are still trying to migrate but now they move between the river and the lake. He compared steelhead genomes of the founder population, of samples at the time when individuals were brought to Lake Michigan, and of the current population in Lake Michigan. It appears that there is selection on genes for smoltification and ion transporters. These genes usually help the fish to adapt from freshwater to saltwater when they undergo their migrations. He could also show that Omy5 seems not to be under selection. Omy5 is the chromosome region that correlates with staying or leaving in O. mykiss (his website). Anna Kupalainen said if age at maturity is inherited by a single locus (original publication by Craig Primmer here) then populations are more likely to destabilize and go extinct – compared to a multilocus inheritance. Anna is a mathematician and modeler. She presented some phantastic approaches to infer fishery-induced selection (Anna’s google scholar profile). It is clear now that fishing is a very strong selective force acting on wild fish populations. Many fish species and populations are not only becoming smaller due to fishing out the bigger individuals, they also change in their behavior because behavioral traits are often correlated with being bigger and growing faster. This was nicely shown by Laura Härkönen. Sébastien Nusslé presented a new model how you can include environmental variables when estimating the strength of fishery-induced selection (Sébastien’s new position!). Lauren Laing is working on maternal and paternal epigenetic effects in sticklebacks and zebrafish. She uses full-factorial in vitro fertilization to raise offspring. Right after fertilization she induces non-genetic factors on them to see if this results in an epigenetic response. She showed during her talk that copper contamination can greatly affect embryonic gene expression and maybe also gene methylation (Lauren’s google scholar profile)

The conference ended with an evening at the Tampa Aquarium and then a long night saying goodbye to Séb in the lobby. I tried my red snapper, my key lime pie and I saw alligators, ‘gator gars and non-native pythons. Now we are flying back to Oakland. Tired. One eye crying for Séb and one laughing to see our families again.

A few fotos:

Big fish

Us staring at the sun

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