Research in Michael Banks' Marine Fisheries Genomics Lab centers on the application of population genetic and genomic principles towards a better understanding of processes important to the management, utilization and conservation of marine fisheries. Michael’s lab focuses on genetic characterization of natural populations, fishery subjects and aquacultural species. The research determines specifics pertaining to hybridized, admixed, or recently diverged populations, population membership of mixed fishery samples, and individual unknown samples from various contexts (such as water diversions). The Banks lab also applies genomic tools to learn how fish (or other creatures important to the fishery food chain) orient in space and time, as well as relative to olfactory stimuli, and how these findings relate to their interaction for mating, migration, response to environmental variability, etc.

Current projects in the Marine Fisheries Genomics Lab are diverse and include the following:

  • Extracting and applying molecular markers from marine organisms (such as SNPs, microsatellites, or other genetic elements including reduced representation full genome approaches) in order to study population structure, dynamics, ecology and life history variance. Examples of species studied in the Banks lab include salmonids, rockfish, and sardines, as well as their predators and parasites.
  • Determining population origin of ocean-captured adult Chinook salmon through characterization against a coast-wide microsatellite baseline and applying these techniques to determine the distribution of different life history types during ocean residence.
  • Related to this we have long term interests in determining the genetic basis for how salmon orient in space, time and relative to olfactory stimuli.
  • Studying RNAseq characterization of copepods captured from long-term (climate change) sampling transects off Newport and elsewhere, along with associated environmental conditions, to determine if relative gene expression analysis can complement inferences on how fluxes in copepod physiology and community inform upper trophic level fishery indexes.
  • Examining genetic, ecological, and policy aspects of the feasibility of sea otter restoration in Oregon.
  • Exploring population structure and assessment of the potential persistence (or lack thereof) of the genomic underpinnings for anadromy among steelhead (and rainbow trout) at the southern extreme of their natural distribution in the Pacific Northwest, despite the recent long-term drought in that region.
  • Investigating genomic and behavioral ecology aspects of mate choice in hatchery and wild salmon and experimental assessment of applications of ‘wild-like’ mate choice in hatcheries as a means of reducing the lower relative reproductive success of hatchery salmon.