Sea lice (Caligus rogercresseyi) is an ectoparasite which causes major production losses in the salmon aquaculture industry worldwide. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are two of the most susceptible salmonid species to sea lice infestation. The objectives of this study were to: (1) identify genomic regions associated with resistance to Caligus rogercresseyi in Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout by performing single-step Genome-Wide Association studies (ssGWAS), and (2) identify candidate genes related to trait variation based on exploring orthologous genes within the associated regions across species. A total of 2626 Atlantic salmon and 2643 rainbow trout were challenged and genotyped with 50 K and 57 K SNP panels, respectively. We ran two independent ssGWAS for sea lice resistance on each species and identified 7 and 13 regions explaining more than 1% of the genetic variance for the trait, with the most important regions explaining 3% and 2.7% for Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout, respectively. We identified genes associated with immune response, cytoskeleton function, and cell migration when focusing on important genomic regions for each species. Moreover, we found 15 common orthogroups which were present in more than one associated genomic region, within- or between-species; however, only one orthogroup showed a clear potential biological relevance in the response against sea lice. For instance, dual-specificity protein phosphatase 10-like (dusp10) and dual-specificity protein phosphatase 8 (dusp8) were found in genomic regions associated with lice density in Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout, respectively. Dusp10 and dusp8 are modulators of the MAPK pathway and might be involved in the differences of the inflammation response between lice resistant and susceptible fish from both species. Our results provide further knowledge on candidate genes related to sea lice resistance and may help establish better control for sea lice in fish populations.
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