The impact of Piscirickettsia salmonis infection on genome-wide DNA methylation profile in Atlantic Salmon  

Robert Mukiibi, Carolina Peñaloza, Alejandro Gutierrez, José M Yáñez, Ross Houston*, Diego Robledo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Salmon rickettsial septicaemia (SRS), caused by the bacteria Piscirickettsia salmonis (P. salmonis), is responsible for significant mortality in farmed Atlantic salmon in Chile. Currently there are no effective treatments or preventive measures for this disease, although genetic selection or genome engineering to increase salmon resistance to SRS are promising strategies. The accuracy and efficiency of these strategies are usually influenced by the available biological background knowledge of the disease. The aim of this study was to investigate DNA methylation changes in response to P. salmonis infection in the head kidney and liver tissue of Atlantic salmon, and the interaction between gene expression and DNA methylation in the same tissues. The head kidney and liver methylomes of 66 juvenile salmon were profiled using reduced representation bisulphite sequencing (RRBS), and compared between P. salmonis infected animals (3 and 9 days post infection) and uninfected controls, and between SRS resistant and susceptible fish. Methylation was correlated with matching RNA-Seq data from the same animals, revealing that methylation in the first exon leads to an important repression of gene expression. Head kidney methylation showed a clear response to the infection, associated with immunological processes such as actin cytoskeleton regulation, phagocytosis, endocytosis and pathogen associated pattern receptor signaling. Our results contribute to the growing understanding of the role of methylation in regulation of gene expression and response to infectious diseases and could inform the incorporation of epigenetic markers into genomic selection for disease resistant and the design of diagnostic epigenetic markers to better manage fish health in salmon aquaculture.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110503
Pages (from-to)1-39
Number of pages39
Issue number6
Early online date13 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Salmo salar
  • aquaculture
  • epigenetics
  • RRBS
  • disease resistance
  • bacteria
  • Piscirickettsia salmonis


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