As in many species, age at maturity in Atlantic salmon is tightly linked with size at maturity and thus represents a classic evolutionary trade-off: later maturing individuals spend more time at sea before returning to freshwater to spawn and have higher reproductive success due to their larger size but also have a higher risk of dying prior to first reproduction. Our recent cover paper in Nature reported a large-effect gene explaining 40% of the variation in this key life history trait. Remarkably, the locus exhibits sex-dependent dominance and this resolves a potential intra-locus sexual conflict in the species. The relatively simple genetic architecture of this trait combined with the features of Atlantic salmon as a model system offer an ideal opportunity to better understand the molecular mechanisms and ecological drivers underlying a locally adapted life history trait.
Ongoing research projects:
- The genetic architecture of life-history variation: functional mechanisms & implications for evolution;
- Integrative science for adaptive co-management in the Arctic: Teno Atlantic salmon as a model system (in collaboration with the University of Turku);
- The molecular mechanisms of rapid thermal adaptation in a European grayling meta-population (in collaboration with the University of Turku).