Background: Genetic linkage maps are useful tools for mapping quantitative trait loci (QTL) influencing variation in traits of interest in a population. Genotyping-by-sequencing approaches such as Restriction-site Associated DNA sequencing (RAD-Seq) now enable the rapid discovery and genotyping of genome-wide SNP markers suitable for the development of dense SNP linkage maps, including in non-model organisms such as Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). This paper describes the development and characterisation of a high density SNP linkage map based on SbfI RAD-Seq SNP markers from two Atlantic salmon reference families.
Results: Approximately 6,000 SNPs were assigned to 29 linkage groups, utilising markers from known genomic locations as anchors. Linkage maps were then constructed for the four mapping parents separately. Overall map lengths were comparable between male and female parents, but the distribution of the SNPs showed sex-specific patterns with a greater degree of clustering of sire-segregating SNPs to single chromosome regions. The maps were integrated with the Atlantic salmon draft reference genome contigs, allowing the unique assignment of ~4,000 contigs to a linkage group. 112 genome contigs mapped to two or more linkage groups, highlighting regions of putative homeology within the salmon genome. A comparative genomics analysis with the stickleback reference genome identified putative genes closely linked to approximately half of the ordered SNPs and demonstrated blocks of orthology between the Atlantic salmon and stickleback genomes. A subset of 47 RAD-Seq SNPs were successfully validated using a high-throughput genotyping assay, with a correspondence of 97% between the two assays.
Conclusions: This Atlantic salmon RAD-Seq linkage map is a resource for salmonid genomics research as genotyping-by-sequencing becomes increasingly common. This is aided by the integration of the SbfI RAD-Seq SNPs with existing reference maps and the draft reference genome, as well as the identification of putative genes proximal to the SNPs. Differences in the distribution of recombination events between the sexes is evident, and regions of homeology have been identified which are reflective of the recent salmonid whole genome duplication.