Salmonid fishes are among the most widely studied model fish species but reports on systematic evaluation of reference genes in qRT-PCR studies is lacking.
The stability of six potential reference genes was examined in eight tissues of Atlantic salmon ( Salmo salar), to determine the most suitable genes to be used in quantitative real-time RT-PCR analyses. The relative transcription levels of genes encoding 18S rRNA, S20 ribosomal protein, β-actin, glyceraldehyde-3P-dehydrogenase (GAPDH), and two paralog genes encoding elongation factor 1A (EF1A A and EF1A B) were quantified in gills, liver, head kidney, spleen, thymus, brain, muscle, and posterior intestine in six untreated adult fish, in addition to a group of individuals that went through smoltification. Based on calculations performed with the geNorm VBA applet, which determines the most stable genes from a set of tested genes in a given cDNA sample, the ranking of the examined genes in adult Atlantic salmon was EF1A B>EF1A A>β-actin>18S rRNA>S20>GAPDH. When the same calculations were done on a total of 24 individuals from four stages in the smoltification process (presmolt, smolt, smoltified seawater and desmoltified freshwater), the gene ranking was EF1A B>EF1A A>S20>β-actin>18S rRNA>GAPDH.