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Concept: Atlantic salmon


Environmental pollutants such as dioxins and PCBs, heavy metals, and organochlorine pesticides are a global threat to food safety. In particular, the aquatic biota can bioaccumulate many of these contaminants potentially making seafood of concern for chronic exposure to humans.

Concepts: Environment, Toxicology, Pollution, Salmon, Soil contamination, Atlantic salmon, Salmo, Marine pollution


The impact of salmon lice on the survival of migrating Atlantic salmon smolts was studied by comparing the adult returns of sea-ranched smolts treated for sea lice using emamectin benzoate or substance EX with untreated control groups in the River Dale in western Norway. A total of 143 500 smolts were released in 35 release groups in freshwater from 1997 to 2009 and in the fjord system from 2007 to 2009. The adult recaptures declined gradually with release year and reached minimum levels in 2007. This development corresponded with poor marine growth and increased age at maturity of ranched salmon and in three monitored salmon populations and indicated unfavourable conditions in the Norwegian Sea. The recapture rate of treated smolts was significantly higher than the controls in three of the releases performed: the only release in 1997, one of three in 2002 and the only group released in sea water in 2007. The effect of treating the smolts against salmon lice was smaller than the variability in return rates between release groups, and much smaller that variability between release years, but its overall contribution was still significant (P < 0.05) and equivalent to an odds ratio of the probability of being recaptured of 1.17 in favour of the treated smolts. Control fish also tended to be smaller as grilse (P = 0.057), possibly due to a sublethal effect of salmon lice.

Concepts: Parasites, Salmon, Norway, Atlantic salmon, Salmo, Tasmania, Sea louse, Salmon louse


The collapse of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) stocks throughout North-Western Europe is generally ascribed to large-scale river regulation, water pollution and over-fishing in the 19(th) and 20(th) century. However, other causes have rarely been quantified, especially those acting before the 19(th) century. By analysing historical fishery, market and tax statistics, independently confirmed by archaeozoological records, we demonstrate that populations declined by up to 90% during the transitional period between the Early Middle Ages (c. 450-900 AD) and Early Modern Times (c. 1600 AD). These dramatic declines coincided with improvements in watermill technology and their geographical expansion across Europe. Our extrapolations suggest that historical Atlantic salmon runs must have once been very abundant indeed. The historical perspective presented here contributes to a better understanding of the primary factors that led to major declines in salmon populations. Such understanding provides an essential basis for the effective ecological rehabilitation of freshwater ecosystems.

Concepts: Middle Ages, Europe, Salmon, Modern history, Atlantic salmon, Salmo, Renaissance, Age of Discovery


Interspecific hybridization is a route for transgenes from genetically modified (GM) animals to invade wild populations, yet the ecological effects and potential risks that may emerge from such hybridization are unknown. Through experimental crosses, we demonstrate transmission of a growth hormone transgene via hybridization between a candidate for commercial aquaculture production, GM Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and closely related wild brown trout (Salmo trutta). Transgenic hybrids were viable and grew more rapidly than transgenic salmon and other non-transgenic crosses in hatchery-like conditions. In stream mesocosms designed to more closely emulate natural conditions, transgenic hybrids appeared to express competitive dominance and suppressed the growth of transgenic and non-transgenic (wild-type) salmon by 82 and 54 per cent, respectively. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of environmental impacts of hybridization between a GM animal and a closely related species. These results provide empirical evidence of the first steps towards introgression of foreign transgenes into the genomes of new species and contribute to the growing evidence that transgenic animals have complex and context-specific interactions with wild populations. We suggest that interspecific hybridization be explicitly considered when assessing the environmental consequences should transgenic animals escape to nature.

Concepts: Fish, Salmon, Aquaculture, Atlantic salmon, Salmo, Rainbow trout, Trout, Brown trout


New de novo sources of omega 3 (n-3) long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) are required as alternatives to fish oil in aquafeeds in order to maintain adequate levels of the beneficial fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic (EPA and DHA, respectively). The present study investigated the use of an EPA+DHA oil derived from transgenic Camelina sativa in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) feeds containing low levels of fishmeal (35%) and fish oil (10%), reflecting current commercial formulations, to determine the impacts on tissue fatty acid profile, intestinal transcriptome, and health of farmed salmon. Post-smolt Atlantic salmon were fed for 12-weeks with one of three experimental diets containing either a blend of fish oil/rapeseed oil (FO), wild-type camelina oil (WCO) or transgenic camelina oil (DCO) as added lipid source. The DCO diet did not affect any of the fish performance or health parameters studied. Analyses of the mid and hindgut transcriptomes showed only mild effects on metabolism. Flesh of fish fed the DCO diet accumulated almost double the amount of n-3 LC-PUFA than fish fed the FO or WCO diets, indicating that these oils from transgenic oilseeds offer the opportunity to increase the n-3 LC-PUFA in farmed fish to levels comparable to those found a decade ago.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Essential fatty acid, Omega-3 fatty acid, Fat, Salmon, Eicosapentaenoic acid, Atlantic salmon


The disease Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI) is causing substantial economic losses to the Norwegian salmon farming industry where the causative agent, piscine orthoreovirus (PRV), is reportedly spreading from farmed to wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) with as yet undetermined impacts. To assess if PRV infection is epidemiologically linked between wild and farmed salmon in the eastern Pacific, wild Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus sp.) from regions designated as high or low exposure to salmon farms and farmed Atlantic salmon reared in British Columbia (BC) were tested for PRV. The proportion of PRV infection in wild fish was related to exposure to salmon farms (p = 0.0097). PRV was detected in: 95% of farmed Atlantic salmon, 37-45% of wild salmon from regions highly exposed to salmon farms and 5% of wild salmon from the regions furthest from salmon farms. The proportion of PRV infection was also significantly lower (p = 0.0008) where wild salmon had been challenged by an arduous return migration into high-elevation spawning habitat. Inter-annual PRV infection declined in both wild and farmed salmon from 2012-2013 (p ≤ 0.002). These results suggest that PRV transfer is occurring from farmed Atlantic salmon to wild Pacific salmon, that infection in farmed salmon may be influencing infection rates in wild salmon, and that this may pose a risk of reduced fitness in wild salmon impacting their survival and reproduction.

Concepts: Fish, Salmon, Salmonidae, Pacific Ocean, Aquaculture, Atlantic salmon, Salmo, Fish farming


Increases in environmental temperature predicted to result from global warming have direct effects on performance of ectotherms. Moreover, cardiac function has been observed to limit the tolerance to high temperatures. Here we show that two wild populations of Atlantic salmon originating from northern and southern extremes of its European distribution have strikingly similar cardiac responses to acute warming when acclimated to common temperatures, despite different local environments. Although cardiac collapse starts at 21-23 °C with a maximum heart rate of ~\n150 beats per min (bpm) for 12 °C-acclimated fish, acclimation to 20 °C considerably raises this temperature (27.5 °C) and maximum heart rate (~\n200 bpm). Only minor population differences exist and these are consistent with the warmer habitat of the southern population. We demonstrate that the considerable cardiac plasticity discovered for Atlantic salmon is largely independent of natural habitat, and we propose that observed cardiac plasticity may aid salmon to cope with global warming.

Concepts: Habitat, Natural environment, Pulse, Difference, Salmon, Pacific Ocean, Atlantic salmon, Tasmania


To ensure sustainable aquaculture, fish derived raw materials are replaced by vegetable ingredients. Fatty acid composition and contaminant status of farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) are affected by the use of plant ingredients and a spillover effect on consumers is thus expected. Here we aimed to compare the effects of intake of Atlantic salmon fed fish oil (FO) with intake of Atlantic salmon fed a high proportion of vegetable oils (VOs) on development of insulin resistance and obesity in mice.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Insulin, Obesity, Fat, Salmon, Atlantic salmon, Salmo


Recent research has identified genetic groups of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar that show association with geological and environmental boundaries. This study focuses on one particular subgroup of the species inhabiting the chalk streams of southern England, U.K. These fish are genetically distinct from other British and European S. salar populations and have previously demonstrated markedly low admixture with populations in neighbouring regions. The genetic population structure of S. salar occupying five chalk streams was explored using 16 microsatellite loci. The analysis provides evidence of the genetic distinctiveness of chalk-stream S. salar in southern England, in comparison with populations from non-chalk regions elsewhere in western Europe. Little genetic differentiation exists between the chalk-stream populations and a pattern of isolation by distance was evident. Furthermore, evidence of temporal stability of S. salar populations across the five chalk streams was found. This work provides new insights into the temporal stability and lack of genetic population sub-structuring within a unique component of the species' range of S. salar.

Concepts: Biology, United Kingdom, Europe, Salmon, Population genetics, Atlantic salmon, Salmo, Charles Darwin


Migration is an important life-history event in a wide range of taxa, yet many migrations are influenced by anthropogenic change. Although migration dynamics are extensively studied, the potential effects of environmental contaminants on migratory physiology are poorly understood. In this study we show that an anxiolytic drug in water can promote downward migratory behaviour of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in both laboratory setting and in a natural river tributary. Exposing salmon smolt to a dilute concentration of a GABAA receptor agonist (oxazepam) increased migration intensity compared with untreated smolt. These results implicate that salmon migration may be affected by human-induced changes in water chemical properties, such as acidification and pharmaceutical residues in wastewater effluent, via alterations in the GABAA receptor function.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Chemistry, Water pollution, Human migration, Salmon, Benzodiazepine, Atlantic salmon, Salmo