Genetic studies for aquaculture and stock-enhancement of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus)



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Texas A&M University


Hypervariable, nuclear-encoded microsatellites were used to (i) estimate genetic effective size (Ne) of red drum spawning over a two-week period in nine brood tanks at a TPWD hatchery; (ii) estimate heritability of early-larval growth and of growth rate and cold tolerance of juveniles; and (iii) test Mendelian segregation and independent assortment of 31 nuclear-encoded microsatellites. Assuming all tanks contributed equally to an offspring population, the maximum (expected) and observed Ne over the nine brood tanks was 43.2 and 27.0, respectively. The estimate of Ne based on observed variation in family size was 19.4. Simulations indicated that over a limited time period the simplest approach to maximizing Ne for a release population would be to utilize equal numbers of progeny from each brood tank. A family (genetic) effect was found to contribute significantly to the variance in early larval growth, juvenile growth rate, and cold tolerance. Estimates of narrow-sense heritability for these three traits were 0.07 +- 0.03, 0.52 +- 0.21 and 0.20 +- 0.10 (two growth intervals measured), and 0.30 +- 0.11, respectively, under the genetic models employed. The relatively low estimate of heritability for early larval growth suggests that genetic improvement for this trait likely would be slow. The heritability estimates for juvenile growth rate and cold tolerance, alternatively, suggest that genetic selection for these traits could be effective. Segregation at all 31 microsatellites fit Mendelian expectations for autosomal loci; a null allele was inferred at two of the microsatellites. Results from pairwise tests of independent assortment demonstrated that 20 of the 31 microsatellites could be placed into seven linkage groups. Additional linkage groups inferred from a prior study increased the number of inferred linkage groups in red drum to nine, with a range of two - five (avg. = 2.78) microsatellites in each linkage group. The remaining 11 microsatellites tested in this study assorted independently from all other microsatellites, suggesting the possibility of 11 additional linkage groups.