, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 649-656
Date: 31 Jan 2013

Pathogen-induced hatching and population-specific life-history response to waterborne cues in brown trout (Salmo trutta)

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Hatching is an important niche shift, and embryos in a wide range of taxa can either accelerate or delay this life-history switch in order to avoid stage-specific risks. Such behavior can occur in response to stress itself and to chemical cues that allow anticipation of stress. We studied the genetic organization of this phenotypic plasticity and tested whether there are differences among populations and across environments in order to learn more about the evolutionary potential of stress-induced hatching. As a study species, we chose the brown trout (Salmo trutta; Salmonidae). Gametes were collected from five natural populations (within one river network) and used for full-factorial in vitro fertilizations. The resulting embryos were either directly infected with Pseudomonas fluorescens or were exposed to waterborne cues from P. fluorescens-infected conspecifics. We found that direct inoculation with P. fluorescens increased embryonic mortality and induced hatching in all host populations. Exposure to waterborne cues revealed population-specific responses. We found significant additive genetic variation for hatching time, and genetic variation in trait plasticity. In conclusion, hatching is induced in response to infection and can be affected by waterborne cues of infection, but populations and families differ in their reaction to the latter.

Communicated by K. Warkentin