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Aquaculture Environment Interactions

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AEI 14:329-342 (2022)  -  DOI:

Genetic structure and origin of non-native, free-living Atlantic salmon Salmo salar along a latitudinal gradient in Chile, South America

Rodrigo Marín-Nahuelpi1,2, José M. Yáñez1,2, Selim S. Musleh2,3,4, Diego Cañas-Rojas2,3, Juan Carlos Quintanilla5, Sergio Contreras-Lynch5, Gonzalo Gajardo6, Maritza Sepúlveda2,7, Chris Harrod2,8,9, Daniel Gomez-Uchida2,3,*

1Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Pecuarias, Universidad de Chile, La Pintana, Santiago, Chile
2Núcleo Milenio INVASAL, Concepción, Chile
3Genomics in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Laboratory (GEECLAB), Departamento de Zoología, Facultad Ciencias Naturales y Oceanográficas, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile
4Departamento de Evaluación de Recursos, Instituto de Fomento Pesquero (IFOP), Valparaíso, Chile
5Departamento de Salud Hidrobiológica, División de Investigación en Acuicultura, Instituto de Fomento Pesquero (IFOP), Puerto Montt, Chile
6Laboratorio de Genética, Acuicultura & Biodiversidad, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas y Biodiversidad, Universidad de Los Lagos, Osorno, Chile
7Centro de investigación y Gestión de Recursos Naturales (CIGREN), Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile
8Instituto de Ciencias Naturales Alexander von Humboldt, Universidad de Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile
9Universidad de Antofagasta Stable Isotope Facility, Instituto Antofagasta, Universidad de Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Limited stocking efforts to introduce Atlantic salmon Salmo salar into Chilean rivers and streams were unsuccessful during the 20th century. Following the arrival of the aquaculture industry during the 1980s, escaped Atlantic salmon have presented an ecological risk to native taxa through predation, competition, and transmission of pathogens or parasites. However, whether commercial aquaculture strains represent the likely source of free-living Atlantic salmon in marine and freshwater environments is unclear. We used 272 single nucleotide polymorphisms to characterize free-living Atlantic salmon (n = 80) captured from 12 marine and freshwater locations in southern Chile. These were compared with 8 reference collections, 6 known commercial strains, and 2 wild populations of Atlantic salmon. We evaluated genetic structure among free-living Atlantic salmon and assessed individual ancestry and origin by assigning mixture samples to reference collections. We found evidence for genetic structure (number of clusters, K = 3) among free-living salmon unexplained by geography, environment, or life stage, but consistent with the number of clusters among commercial aquaculture strains. Most free-living Atlantic salmon had a close ancestry with farmed Norwegian strains, the most widely used by the industry, pointing to recent aquaculture escapes as their origin. Yet recent establishment of self-sustaining populations weakly differentiated from aquaculture broodstock cannot be ruled out. We propose increasing monitoring efforts of free-living Atlantic salmon in remote sites as well as in watersheds located in densely stocked aquaculture areas.

KEY WORDS: Invasive species · Genetic stock identification · Single nucleotide polymorphisms · SNPs · Salmonids

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Cite this article as: Marín-Nahuelpi R, Yáñez JM, Musleh SS, Cañas-Rojas D and others (2022) Genetic structure and origin of non-native, free-living Atlantic salmon Salmo salar along a latitudinal gradient in Chile, South America. Aquacult Environ Interact 14:329-342.

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