Feb 28, 2019 // Exploration of sustainable Arctic fisheries: microbiomes for bioprospecting and fish health assessments
Erin Hamilton, M. Sc. Candidate
The Towards a Sustainable Fishery for Nunavummiut (TSFN) Project is partnered with the Nunavut community of Gjoa Haven. We are using genomic and microbial analyses to inform strategies to retain genetically-diverse and healthy fish stocks for Inuit communities. In this region, Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) and whitefish (Coregonus spp.) can be anadromous, migrating annually from the ocean to freshwater lakes and rivers in order to escape sub-zero temperatures. The fish and their associated microbiomes must adapt accordingly to their changing environment. Analysis of fish microbial community compositions has shown that skin bacterial communities are statistically different when sampled from freshwater or saline water sites, but appear to maintain a core community, with Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Cyanobacteria presenting as major phyla. Given these findings, microbial assemblages could be used as a proxy for fish health. In addition, there is bioprospecting potential for microbial taxa that could provide advantages for fish in aquaculture.