Friday, December 21, 2007

Native and genetically pure brown trout of the Danubian drainage

A paper by Andrej & Aleš was published in "Ribič", Journal of the Association of Slovenian Fishermen (not the official English name of the organization).

This paper was a response to several papers in the Ribič journal where genetically pure and /or native brown trout were mentioned. Problematics of hybridization with non native brown trout was presented as well as published and unpublished results of our surveys in several Slovenian rivers.

It is worth to mention that Kottelat and Freyhof in their "Handbook of European Freshwater Fishes" (2007) use the almost forgotten name Salmo labrax for native brown trout of the Danubian drainage.

A new piece of equipment

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Annual testing of marble trout from zone of hybridization

One of the success stories of fish restoration comes from the west part of Slovenia (the River Soča and its tributaries). Native marble trout was under threat because of hybridization with non-native brown trout that was being stocked in the rivers for decades. In the 90s, the last 8 populations of genetically pure marble trout were identified and used in marble trout restoration program. The native range of marble trout is mostly stocked with offspring of fish from these 8 populations. However, these populations have low genetic variability, therefore individuals from the zone of hybridization are also used in the restoration program so that genetic diversity of marble trout from the zone of hybridization is not lost. The problem is how to select individuals from zone of hybridization that don't have (too much) non native genetic characteristics.

We performed genetic testing of fish from the zone of hybridization for the last 5 years. This year we have received fin clips from 34 individually tagged trout from the River Tolminka, tributary of the River Soča. These samples were checked for non native genetic characteristic on 6 nuclear genetic markers (each genetic marker in 2 copies, one allele inherited from each parent) and on 1 mitochondrial genetic marker (in 1 copy, inherited from the mother only). Out of 34 samples, 14 show signs of hybridization with non native trout. Eggs and sperm will be taken from 20 trout with no detectable brown trout genetic characteristics, fertilised and raised in the hatchery and released back in the zone of hybridization.

Below is a simplified table of genotypes. These genotypes are not publishable, since the initial sampling was biased, only marble trout (by general appearance) were taken from the river, so the actual percentage of non native alleles in Tolminka might differ from our results (6%).

Table of genotypes across 1 mitochondrial and 6 nuclear markers. Samples with non native (=brown trout alleles) are marked red and will not be used in restoration program. f - female, m - male, M - marble trout specific allele, B - brown trout specific allele.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tissue samples

A new set of photos was added to the site to show the appearance of tissue samples as they arrive in our laboratory. Nowadays we mostly work with fin clips, taking blood and scales during field trips seems to be less practical, even tough it is possible to isolate DNA from just about any material.