Researchers discovered that hatchery salmon is genetically different from wild salmon.

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Ever wondered why that salmon you caught when you last went camping tasted so different than the one you eat at a restaurant? The answer is we’re not eating real salmon, not from a genetic point of view, at least.

Researchers from the State University of Oregon were the ones that discovered the fact that we are not eating real salmon. According to the team studied the differences between wild salmon and hatchery salmon, there are a few genetic differences between the two types of fish.

The place of birth is, apparently, not the only thing that makes hatchery salmon different from his wild brother. The researchers have found that the two types of fish differ at DNA level. And we’re not talking just about a few minor differences, but approximately 700 genes that do not share similarities. Also, the genetic mutations of the home-grown salmon are passed on every new generation. Soon there will be nothing in common between the two fish, except the name, of course.

The researchers published their findings in the Nature Communications journal. And according to the paper, we’re not eating real salmon, not from a genetic point of view. The home-raised grizzly treat presents a unique kind of genetic material that could not be found in the wild, original version of the fish.

One of the causes of this giant difference between the wild salmon and the domestic one is inbreeding. Lately, there have been more and more places where fishing has been prohibited. In the present moment hatcheries are the biggest source of fish in the US market.

And hatcheries start off with different individuals, but sooner than later the fish will end up reproducing via inbreeding. This unhealthy method produces irrevocable genetic mutations that are transmissible to later generations.

And according to Michael Blouin, an integrative biology professor at the OSU Science College, the domestic salmon is raised in improper conditions. The fish are crowded in a basin and fed artificial special pellets, as opposed to the wild salmon that swims freely in rivers. It is only logical that the future generations adapt to the conditions.

The major differences between the hatchery-raised salmon and the wild one are not just the genetic inconsistencies. The domestic salmon is used to be fed by humans, it doesn’t know how to hunt or how to avoid a natural predator. Its wild relative must hunt ever since it is born and faces life-threatening situations every day.

We’re not eating real salmon, not anymore. But that doesn’t mean that we should throw out all of the hatchery-raised salmon and start fishing in the streams for the wild kind. Humans are not affected by the genetic mutations of the domestic salmon.

Image source: www.geograph.org.uk