WSU researchers discover shrinking gene pool among Chinook salmon populations

The Spokesman Review –

As Chinook salmon populations declined across the Pacific Northwest, scientists suspected the fish lost a great deal of genetic diversity, too.

But until recently, the theory hadn’t been tested. Ancient salmon bones are hard to come by, and it’s even harder to extract workable DNA samples from them.

“Science finally caught up with what we already believed and allowed us to test it,” said Bobbi Johnson, the lead author of a new Washington State University study that raises concerns about the Chinooks’ ability to respond to environmental change.

Starting in 2010, Johnson’s team collected hundreds of salmon bones from Native American archeological sites – some more than twice as old as the first Egyptian pyramid – and compared their DNA with modern samples from the same areas.

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