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Royal Society Open Science
Low levels of heterozygosity can have detrimental effects on life history and growth characteristics of organisms but more subtle effects such as those on trade-offs of expensive tissues and morphological laterality, especially of the brain, have not been explicitly tested. The objective of the current study was to investigate how estimated differences in heterozygosity may potentially affect brain-to-body trade-offs and to explore how these heterozygosity differences may affect differential brain growth, focusing on directional asymmetry in adult Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) using the laterality and absolute laterality indices. Level of inbreeding was estimated as mean microsatellite heterozygosity resulting in four ‘inbreeding level groups’ (Very High, High, Medium, Low). A higher inbreeding level corresponded with a decreased brain-to-body ratio, thus a decrease in investment in brain tissue, and also showed a decrease in the laterality index for the cerebellum, where the left hemisphere was larger than the right across all groups. These results begin to show the role that differences in heterozygosity may play in differential tissue investment and in morphological laterality, and may be useful in two ways. Firstly, the results may be valuable for restocking programmes that wish to emphasize brain or body growth when crossing adults to generate individuals for release, as we show that genetic variation does affect these trade-offs. Secondly, this study is one of the first examinations to test the hypothesized relationship between genetic variation and laterality, finding that in Chinook salmon there is potential for an effect of inbreeding on lateralized morphology, but not in the expected direction.
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Wiper, Mallory L.; Lehnert, Sarah J.; Heath, Daniel D.; and Higgs, Dennis M.. (2017). Neutral genetic variation in adult Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) affects brain-to-body trade-off and brain laterality. Royal Society Open Science, 4 (12), 170989.