In the laboratory of Prof. Louis Bernatchez and as part of the RAQ with Céline Audet, I am developing tools for characterizing the genome and gene expression of the Brook charr Salvelinus fontinalis, and placing in the broader context of salmonid genomics. We have constructed a high density genetic map for Brook charr and integrated it with all other available salmonid species. Now we are characterizing the regulation of important genes using RNA-Seq, network analysis and eQTL analysis. So far, this work has led to new insight into genome and sex chromosome evolution post whole genome duplication.
Key papers: Sutherland et al. (2016) GBE; Sutherland et al. (2017) G3.
Oyster Genomics and Population Health
In the laboratory of Kristi Miller I am part of a collaboration with interdisciplinary academic and governmental researchers funded by the Moore Foundation and Hakai to investigate the causes of observed oyster die-offs in the Pacific northwest. We will be applying population genomics and microbial profiling to investigate the many factors associated with these mortalities. More information on this project will be coming soon.
As a long-term research focus, I have studied the host-parasite interaction between salmon and sea lice. Specifically investigating transcriptomic responses of susceptible or resistant species, or life stages, to identify mechanisms underlying sensitivities. Through the progress of GRASP, cGRASP, and GiLS projects, including work with Dr. Simon Jones at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, we have demonstrated species-specific variation in infection rates connected to physiological and molecular responses in co-habitation experimental infections with salmon lice. Closely-related species displaying susceptibility differences enable identification of genes related to beneficial responses. Furthermore, the responses of the lice indicate transcriptome-level differences of lice infecting different hosts.
Key papers: Sutherland et al. (2014) BMC Genom; Braden, Sutherland et al. (2017) BMC Genom.
Limited energy allocation means that an organism may only induce certain processes if energy is not being used in other tasks. Examples to consider for salmonids include smoltification, spawning, or co-infection with multiple pathogens requiring different pathways for efficient immunity. Some of these divergent programs may be hardwired to be inversely regulated in the host system. A response type switch was observed in the transcriptome of free-swimming salmon lice responding to salinity stress (Sutherland et al., 2012) in which an initial transient response to a mild stress was shifted to a long-term coping strategy once the stressor reaches a certain level.
Key papers: Salmon lice: Sutherland et al. (2012) Mol Ecol; Steelhead trout: Sutherland et al. (2014) Mol Ecol.
Evolution of Drug Resistance in Aquaculture
Currently salmon aquaculture is largely dependent upon a few chemicals to defend against lice infections on farms, and resistance to the most common chemical has been documented in Atlantic Canada, Norway and Chile. To understand mechanisms behind resistance, I evaluate parasite responses in wild populations of salmon lice L. salmonis with differing levels of drug resistance in collaboration with Dr. Mark Fast at UPEI, and compare with responses of sensitive salmon lice from Pacific Canada.
Key papers: Sutherland et al. (2015) Evol Appl.
© Ben J G Sutherland 2013 All rights reserved