Anne Beulke

UC Santa Cruz

“Fishing for answers: Demystifying the variation in migration patterns of steelhead trout”

I’m use genetic and genomic tools to understand the variation in migration patterns in steelhead trout and Chinook salmon. These fish have a migration from freshwater to the ocean. They then return to their natal freshwater streams to breed. I’m interested in the length of time they send in the ocean and time that they spawn within their breeding season. I can get this information from hatchery-spawned populations of steelhead and Chinook salmon. A small piece of fin is clipped from each fish that is spawned at the hatchery and from that fin tissue we can extract DNA. Then, we collect genotype information for each individual and use a statistical program to find the most-likely parent and offspring trios based on their genetic material. I can then compile all the parent-offspring trios into large, multigenerational family trees. I then use these family trees to calculate the heritability of each trait. In steelhead, I have found that both traits are heritable, and I will take the analysis a step further to find the genetic architecture behind these two traits. I will do this with whole genome sequencing for roughly 300 individual and I’ll then complete a genome-wide association study.


I’m interested in the heritability of traits tied to migration in steelhead trout and Chinook salmon. I use genetic data to reconstruct family tress of the fish and then by comparing parents and offspring, I can calculate the heritability of different traits. I’m also interested in the genetic architecture of heritable traits, which can be discovered by analyzing whole genomes of individual fish.

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