Molecular Genetics Lab at Pacific Biological Station

The Molecular Genetics Laboratory (MGL) provides genetics advice relating to conservation and management of fish and shellfish species in Canada. Genetic diversity within populations and genetic relationships among populations are evaluated through surveys of microsatellites, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), major histocompatibility complex (MHC) variation, and gene expression. Applications include determination of population structure and appropriate assessment and management units, identification of stock compositions in mixed-stock fisheries, forensics, evaluation of hatchery and aquaculture broodstocks, identification of prey items in marine mammal diets, determination of evolutionary relationships in teleost fish, and application of biomarkers to identify upregulation and downregulation of specific gene complexes.

The MGL is also involved in research on adaptive immunity in teleost fishes. To elucidate the role of selection on the maintenance of diversity in the MHC, the laboratory has compiled (in salmon) the largest population-level databases on adaptive MHC variation available for any species. Salmonid MHC genes have also been found to be associated with resistance to IHN. The MGL has recently begun a research program on gene expression analysis, using both a quantitative RT-PCR approach to assess expression of single genes, and microarray analysis to assess genome-wide changes in gene expression. This work has initially focussed on genes involved in immunity, but will in the future focus on genome-wide expression profiling of salmon exposed to a variety of environmental purturbations to gain a better understanding of the physiological response of salmon to changes in their environment.

Major Equipment

  • 1 ABI 3730xl DNA Analyzer
  • 1 ABI 3730 DNA Analyzer
  • 2 ABI 377 DNA Sequencers
  • 1 ABI 7900HT Fast Real-Time PCR System
  • 1 Beckman Biomek FX Robot with a Multichannel Head and Integrated Carousel
  • 1 Beckman Biomek NXP Robot with a Span-8 Head and Integrated DTX 880 Plate Reader
  • 1 Beckman Biomek NX Robot with a Multichannel Head
  • 1 Beckman DTX 880 stand-alone Plate Reader
  • 3 Bio-Rad Tetrad2 DNA Engines with 96-well Alpha Units
  • 4 Bio-Rad Tetrad2 DNA Engines with 384-well Alpha Units
  • 16 Bio-Rad Dcode Universal Mutation Detection Systems
  • 2 Hitachi FMBIO 2 Fluorescent Imaging Systems
  • 1 MJ Research DNA Engine Opticon
  • 20 MJ Research PTC 100 PCR machines
  • 1 Packard BioScience ScanArray Express Microarray Scanner
  • 1 TECAN HS 4800 Pro Hybridization Station with two extension units