Open Access Research article

Detection of QTL with effects on osmoregulation capacities in the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Yvan Le Bras1, Nicolas Dechamp2, Francine Krieg2, Olivier Filangi56, René Guyomard2, Mekki Boussaha2, Henk Bovenhuis3, Thomas G Pottinger4, Patrick Prunet1, Pascale Le Roy56 and Edwige Quillet2*

Author Affiliations

1 INRA, UR1037 SCRIBE, IFR 140, F-35000 Rennes, France

2 INRA, UMR1313 Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, F-78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France

3 Animal Breeding and Genetics Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 338, NL-6700AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands

4 Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4AP, UK

5 INRA, UMR0598 Génétique Animale, F-35000 Rennes, France

6 Agrocampus Ouest, UMR0598 Génétique Animale, F-35000 Rennes, France

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BMC Genetics 2011, 12:46  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-12-46

Published: 14 May 2011



There is increasing evidence that the ability to adapt to seawater in teleost fish is modulated by genetic factors. Most studies have involved the comparison of species or strains and little is known about the genetic architecture of the trait. To address this question, we searched for QTL affecting osmoregulation capacities after transfer to saline water in a nonmigratory captive-bred population of rainbow trout.


A QTL design (5 full-sib families, about 200 F2 progeny each) was produced from a cross between F0 grand-parents previously selected during two generations for a high or a low cortisol response after a standardized confinement stress. When fish were about 18 months old (near 204 g body weight), individual progeny were submitted to two successive hyper-osmotic challenges (30 ppt salinity) 14 days apart. Plasma chloride and sodium concentrations were recorded 24 h after each transfer. After the second challenge, fish were sacrificed and a gill index (weight of total gill arches corrected for body weight) was recorded. The genome scan was performed with 196 microsatellites and 85 SNP markers. Unitrait and multiple-trait QTL analyses were carried out on the whole dataset (5 families) through interval mapping methods with the QTLMap software. For post-challenge plasma ion concentrations, significant QTL (P < 0.05) were found on six different linkage groups and highly suggestive ones (P < 0.10) on two additional linkage groups. Most QTL affected concentrations of both chloride and sodium during both challenges, but some were specific to either chloride (2 QTL) or sodium (1 QTL) concentrations. Six QTL (4 significant, 2 suggestive) affecting gill index were discovered. Two were specific to the trait, while the others were also identified as QTL for post-challenge ion concentrations. Altogether, allelic effects were consistent for QTL affecting chloride and sodium concentrations but inconsistent for QTL affecting ion concentrations and gill morphology. There was no systematic lineage effect (grand-parental origin of QTL alleles) on the recorded traits.


For the first time, genomic loci associated with effects on major physiological components of osmotic adaptation to seawater in a nonmigratory fish were revealed. The results pave the way for further deciphering of the complex regulatory mechanisms underlying seawater adaptation and genes involved in osmoregulatory physiology in rainbow trout and other euryhaline fishes.