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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 81:119-125 (2008)  -  DOI:

Gonadal alterations in male whitefish Coregonus fatioi: no evidence for genetic damage reducing viability in early life stages

Davnah Urbach1,2,7,*, Adrian Britschgi2,8, Alain Jacob1,2,3, David Bittner4, Daniel Bernet5, Thomas Wahli5, Nigel G. Yoccoz6, Claus Wedekind1,2

1Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
2Division of Conservation Biology, University of Bern, Erlachstrasse 9, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
3Natural History Museum, 3005 Bern, Switzerland
4Computational and Molecular Populations Genetics (CMPG), Zoological Institute, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 6,
3012 Bern, Switzerland
5Centre for Fish and Wildlife Health, University of Bern, Laenggassstr. 122, PB 8466, 3001 Bern, Switzerland
6Department of Biology, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
7Present address: International Institute for Applied System Analysis, Schlossplatz 1, 2360 Laxenburg, Austria
8Present address: Departement Klinische Forschung, University of Bern, MEM E829, Murtenstrasse 35, 3010 Bern, Switzerland

ABSTRACT: In recent years, numerous cases of morphological gonadal alterations in fish have been recorded throughout the world and across a wide range of species. In the whitefish Coregonus fatioi from the pre-alpine Lake Thun (Switzerland), the frequency of gonadal alterations is particularly high and the variety of alteration types large. Little is known about the proximal causes and the direct consequences of these morphological features on population persistence. In particular, the potential for the observed alterations to be the phenotypic expression of reduced genetic quality has not yet been addressed. In this study, we used offspring survival during embryogenesis as a proximate indicator of male genetic quality and tested whether the presence of gonadal alterations in males is an indicator of reduced quality. Embryos resulted from in vitro fertilizations of gametes from 126 males and females. We found no significant correlation between embryo survival and gonadal alteration in adults. Our findings suggest that in C. fatioi of Lake Thun, alterations in gonad morphology are not a phenotypic expression of variation in genetic quality.

KEY WORDS: Gonadal alterations · Genetic quality · Embryo survival · Whitefish · Lake Thun

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Cite this article as: Urbach D, Britschgi A, Jacob A, Bittner D and others (2008) Gonadal alterations in male whitefish Coregonus fatioi: no evidence for genetic damage reducing viability in early life stages. Dis Aquat Org 81:119-125.

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