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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A genetic basis of adaptation to high pH in Rainbow Trout McBryan, Tara Lynn


Exposure to high environmental pH is physiologically stressful for fish. In British Columbia, this has led to low survivorship among Rainbow Trout stocked into alkaline lakes. Early studies have shown promising results for stocking the progeny of brood stock collected in high pH lakes into similar alkaline environments. Here I follow up by characterizing the high pH tolerance of fish with parents collected from an alkaline lake, Stump Lake. I also look at the effects of acclimation and rearing fish at pH 8.8 on subsequent pH 9.5 tolerance. I found that this population had a short time to loss of equilibrium, with only 10% of fish remaining after a 3 day exposure to pH 9.5. Acclimation resulted in significant improvements to tolerance and rearing resulted in almost none of the fish losing equilibrium over a 3 day exposure. A genome wide association study on non-acclimated and acclimated individuals did not show any significant genetic marker associations with high pH tolerance. However this analysis did identify some potential SNPs associated with genes involved in acid-base regulation, muscle function, neural signaling, and DNA transcription in the non-acclimated fish. The pH 8.8 acclimated fish only showed association with genes involved in neural signaling and DNA transcription. These data suggest that acclimation may remove limitations associated with some of these other processes. Overall the Stump Lake population does not appear to have genetic adaptations that improve tolerance to high pH exposure, but can improve tolerance through acclimation to moderately high pH.

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