Ocean-migrating trout adapt to freshwater environment in 120 years

Steelhead trout, a member of the salmon family that live and grow in the Pacific Ocean, genetically adapted to the freshwater environment of Lake Michigan in less than 120 years.

Steelhead were intentionally introduced into Lake Michigan in the late 1800s in order to bolster recreational and commercial fisheries. In their native range, which extends from California to Russia, steelhead hatch in freshwater rivers, migrate to the ocean, and return to freshwater to spawn. This migration allows steelhead to feed in the ocean, where they can grow larger and produce more eggs than if they remained in freshwater streams for their entire lives.

The steelhead introduced into Lake Michigan continue to spawn in small freshwater tributaries and streams, but now treat the entirely freshwater habitat of the Great Lakes as a surrogate ocean. After their introduction into Lake Michigan, steelhead began to naturally reproduce and established self-sustaining populations throughout the Great Lakes. To examine how these  adapted to this novel , a team led by Mark Christie, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Purdue University, sequenced the complete genomes of 264 fish. The team then compared steelhead from Lake Michigan to those from their ancestral range, searching for outlier regions associated with genetic adaptation.

LINK (via: Phys.Org)

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