First Advisor

Jason E. Podrabsky

Date of Publication

Summer 9-20-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Steelhead (Fish) -- Genetics, Rainbow trout -- Genetics, Gene expression, Life cycles (Biology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 62 pages)


Life history within a single species can vary significantly. Many of these differences are associated with varying environmental conditions. Understanding what environmental conditions cue alternate life histories within a single species has been researched extensively. In salmonid fishes, more than almost any other group, varying environmental conditions give rise to individuals within species that take markedly different life history trajectories.

Oncorhynchus mykissis a species of salmonid native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America. This species has two life history forms, anadromous and resident. The anadromous form spends a portion of its life in ocean while the resident life history form completes its entire life history in freshwater. Until the decision to migrate and morphological changes associated with smoltification occur, the two life history variants of this species are indistinguishable from each other. This ambiguity in juvenile O. mykiss morphology presents challenges for conservation managers charged with protecting and increasing threatened O. mykiss populations around the Pacific Northwest because conservation efforts cannot be evaluated until juvenile fish make the decision to migrate.

Microarray gene expression analysis was used to profile gene expression in juvenile populations of wild and hatchery O. mykiss to identify gene expression variation associated with alternate life history variants. This analysis identified 8 DNA sequences present in both brain and gill tissues that differ in expression in rainbow trout and steelhead hatchery stocks. Differential expression as quantified by microarrays was validated with quantitative real-time PCR. Lastly, the expression of these putative life history markers was preliminarily evaluated in a wild population of O. mykiss at sample locations in the South Fork John Day River Basin, Oregon with known ratios of juvenile anadromous and resident fish.


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