The Atlantic salmon is an important aquaculture species and a very interesting species biologically, since it spawns in fresh water and develops through several stages before becoming a smolt, the stage at which it migrates to the sea to feed. The dramatic change of habitat requires physiological, morphological and behavioural changes to prepare the salmon for its new environment. These changes are called the parr-smolt transformation or smoltification, and pre-adapt the salmon for survival and growth in the marine environment. The development of hypo-osmotic regulatory ability plays an important part in facilitating the transition from rivers to the sea. The physiological mechanisms behind the developmental changes are largely unknown. An understanding of the transformation process will be vital to the future of the aquaculture industry. A knowledge of which genes are expressed prior to the smoltification process is an important basis for further studies.
In all, 2974 unique sequences, consisting of 779 contigs and 2195 singlets, were generated for Atlantic salmon from two cDNA libraries constructed from the gills and the intestine, accession numbers [Genbank: CK877169-CK879929, CK884015-CK886537 and CN181112-CN181464]. Nearly 50% of the sequences were assigned putative functions because they showed similarity to known genes, mostly from other species, in one or more of the databases used. The Swiss-Prot database returned significant hits for 1005 sequences. These could be assigned predicted gene products, and 967 were annotated using Gene Ontology (GO) terms for molecular function, biological process and/or cellular component, employing an annotation transfer procedure.
This paper describes the construction of two cDNA libraries from pre-smolt Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and the subsequent EST sequencing, clustering and assigning of putative function to 1005 genes expressed in the gills and/or intestine.