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Differential gene expression during smoltification of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.): a first large-scale microarray study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • P. J. Seear
  • S. N. Carmichael
  • Richard Talbot
  • J. B. Taggart
  • J. E. Bron
  • G. E. Sweeney

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-140
Number of pages15
JournalMarine Biotechnology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


The life cycle of the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) involves a period of 1 to 3 years in freshwater followed by migration to the sea where the salmon undergoes rapid growth. In preparation for the marine environment, while still in freshwater, the salmon undergo a transformation from a freshwater dwelling parr to a saltwater adapted smolt, a process known as smoltification. The Atlantic salmon Transcriptome Analysis of Important Traits of Salmon/Salmon Genome Project (TRAITS/SGP) cDNA microarray was used to investigate how gene expression alters during smoltification. Genes differentially expressed during smoltification were identified by comparing gene expression profiles in smolt brain, gill, and kidney tissue samples with those of parr. Of the three tissues investigated, the number of differentially expressed genes was the greatest in gill. Many of the differentially expressed genes could be assigned to one of four main categories: growth, metabolism, oxygen transport, and osmoregulation. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction successfully confirmed the differential expression of seven of the upregulated genes. The TRAITS/SGP cDNA microarray was used to successfully demonstrate for the first time how gene expression mediates smoltification in the Atlantic salmon. Changes in gene expression observed in this study reflected the physiological and biochemical changes recorded by previous studies describing the parr–smolt transformation. This study significantly increases our knowledge of smoltification and will benefit future studies in this area of research.

    Research areas

  • Transcriptomics , Parr, Smoltification , Salmonids

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