Heritability, Environmental Effects, and Genetic and Phenotypic Correlations of Oxidative Stress Resistance-Related Enzyme Activities During Early Life Stages in Atlantic Salmon

Siim Kahar*, Paul V. Debes, Kristina A.M. Vuori, Juha Pekka Vähä, Anti Vasemägi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Oxidative stress (OS) may pose important physiological constraints on individuals, affecting trade-offs between growth and reproduction or ageing and survival. Despite such evolutionary and ecological importance, the results from studies on the magnitude of individual variation in OS resistance and the underlying causes of this variation such as genetic, environmental, and maternal origins, remain inconclusive. Using a high throughput methodology, we investigated the activity levels in three OS resistance-related enzymes (superoxide dismutase, SOD; glutathione reductase, GR; glutathione S-transferase, GST) during the early life stages of 1000 individuals from 50 paternal half-sib families in two populations of Atlantic salmon. Using animal mixed models, we detected the presence of narrow-sense heritability for SOD and GST; that for GST differed between populations due to differences in environmental variance. We found support for the presence of common environmental variation, including maternal effects, for only GR. Using a bivariate animal model, we detected a positive environmental correlation between activity levels of SOD and GST but were unable to detect an additive genetic correlation. Our results complement previous heritability findings for levels of reactive oxygen species or OS resistance by demonstrating the presence of heritability for OS-related enzyme activities. Our findings provide a foundation for future work, such as investigations on the evolutionary importance of variation in enzyme activities. In addition, our findings emphasise the importance of accounting for developmental stage, environmental variance, and kin relationships when investigating the OS-response at the enzyme activity level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-226
Number of pages12
JournalEvolutionary Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Põlula Fish Rearing Centre for creating and maintaining animals and logistic support; L. Maran, L. Pukk, K. Pai, I. Tallerman and M. Aid for hatchery assistance; T. Pajula, PM. Maravi, N. Vuori, M. Kanerva and K. Sõstar for laboratory assistance. For initial analyses and manuscript improvements we greatly thank M. Bruneaux. Sylvain Losdat and three anonymous reviewers are thanked for improving an earlier version of the manuscript. This study was funded by the SA Archimedes Foundation, Emil Aaltosen Säätiö and Oskar Öflunds Stiftelse to SK, the Estonian Science Foundation (Grant Numbers 6802, 8215) and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (institutional research funding project IUT8-2) to AV and the Academy of Finland to AV, J-PV and KV.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Other keywords

  • Genetic correlation
  • Heritability
  • Oxidative stress
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Salmo salar


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