Brown trout (Salmo trutta L.), is a freshwater species, native to Europe, south-west Asia and northern Africa. It is one of the most polymorphic vertebrates, showing extensive variation and plasticity in morphology, ecology and behaviour. Several studies have shown that this pronounced phenotypic diversity reflects a corresponding geographical distribution of genetic diversity. So far, most of the studies attempted to genetically characterise local brown trout populations by applying neutral molecular markers.
However, local populations may differ from each other in several traits that have evolved due to specific environment and different selection pressure, and therefore cannot be followed by neutral markers. In order to follow and characterize the differences at this stage, coding regions within nuclear DNA genes should be considered. The most phenotypically distinct evolutionary lineage of S. trutta, diagnosed by its characteristic marbled colour pattern and great growth capacity, represents marble trout, S. (trutta) marmoratus, which was chosen as a model species in this project. Marble trout mRNA isolated from tissues expressing genes evolved in pigmentation and growth will be subjected to subtractive hybridisation with brown trout mRNA in order to find genomic regions connected to the diagnostic features of marble trout.
These genomic regions will represent a new marker set that we will be tested also in different S. trutta populations throughout its geographical range in order to infer new insights into phylogeography of S. trutta complex. We believe that knowledge about complex gene evolution will give new dimensions not only to understand evolutionary pathways of the species and its adaptation to environment, but also to identify genetic resources of high importance in a sense of adaptive potential.
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