Genetic resistance to infectious pancreatic necrosis virus in pedigreed atlantic salmon (salmo salar)
Guy, Derrick Richard
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Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN), due to infection with the IPN virus (IPNv), continues to cause heavy mortalities and is endemic across the major Atlantic salmon farming regions of the world. Prevalances of 0.3-0.8 or more at the freshwater stage and 0.05 to 0.3 in the seawater phase of production are typical. Partially effective injectable vaccines are available against seawater IPN but biosecurity measures remain the main methods of control. To explore the feasibility of selecting salmon for resistance to IPN, a selective breeding program was initiated in 1996, including a series of field and experimental trials challenging known full-sib families with IPNv. A total of 404,723 fish faced IPNv challenge (376,541 seawater and 28,182 freshwater) covering 14 years and 17 separate locations across 7 sites. Mortalities and survivors following IPN challenge were counted by full-sib family and analysed as binomial data (alive / dead). Initial heritabilities were obtained from expressions based on the variance and covariance of full-sib family means for the 2001 year-group, indicating heritabilities (h2) of 0.16, range 0.08 to 0.24, and genetic correlations (rg) between replicate families of 0.71 to 0.78. These results were then confirmed by residual maximum likelihood across all seawater challenged data (year-groups 1997-2003), indicating a h2 of 0.43 (s.e.0.02) across all sites, range 0.06 to 0.40 for individual sites, and a range of rg between replicates of 0.70 to 0.87 (s.e. approx 0.05). To accommodate datasets and pedigrees approaching half a million individually identified fish, an implementation of the Reduced Animal model (RAM) was used to obtain these estimates. A similar level of genetic variation for resistance to freshwater IPN (year-groups 2005-2009) was confirmed with a h2 of 0.49, (s.e. 0.03), range 0.31 to 0.59, and rg between replicates ( 0.80 to 0.95, s.e. approx 0.05), using an Individual Animal Model. When all the data were analysed together, assuming seawater and freshwater survival to be the same trait, the heritability increased to 0.67, (s.e. 0.02). On testing this assumption, the genetic correlation between freshwater and seawater survival was found to be 0.68 s.e. 0.09. Both these pooled estimates account better than those for the individual site estimates, for the known selection of superior families that was incorporated at the earliest opportunity (2001) into the selective breeding program. To further investigate if there were favourable or antagonistic relationships operating between traits under active selection, genetic correlations between IPN mortality and a range of performance and harvest traits were obtained. When restricting the harvest data to year-groups where the harvested fish had not experienced an IPN event (2003 for seawater IPN, 2005 for freshwater IPN) : fish length and flesh colour just reached significance with seawater IPN (0.27 to 0.53. s.e. 0.14), while only harvest weight (0.30 s.e 0.11) attained significance with freshwater IPN mortality. All these correlations were antagonistic. When all the data were combined, (ie both IPN and harvest events taken from all yeargroups) these became non-significant. Taken as a whole, these results indicate that selecting salmon for resistance to both seawater and freshwater IPN challenge certainly is feasible, and that adverse effects on selection for other important production traits is not expected. How these medium to high heritabilities relate to the discovery of a major QTL for IPN resistance segregating in these populations, reported in a parallel scheme of work but based on a sub-set of the same families, is discussed.