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Title: Genetic Approaches To The Analysis of Body Colouration in Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)
Authors: Rajaee, Amy H.
Supervisor(s): Penman, David J.
Keywords: Nile tilapia
body colouration
image analysis
red tilapia
linkage mapping
Issue Date: Apr-2011
Publisher: University of Stirling
Citation: doi:10.1016/j.aquaculture.2010.05.039
Abstract: Body colouration in tilapia is an important trait affecting consumer preference. In the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), there are three colour variants which are normal (wild type), red and blond. In some countries, the red variant is important and reaches higher prices in the market. However, one major problem regarding red tilapia culture is their body colouration which is often associated with blotching (mainly black but also red) which is undesirable for the consumer. The overall aim of this work was to expand knowledge on various aspects of body colouration in Nile tilapia using genetic approaches. The results of this research are presented as four different manuscripts. The manuscripts (here referred as Papers) have either been published (Paper IV) or are to be submitted (Paper I, II and III) in relevant peer reviewed journals. Paper I and II investigated the inheritance of black blotching and other body colour components of the red body colour. Specifically, Paper I consisted of two preliminary trials (Trial 1 and 2), to look at the ontogeny of black blotching and body colour components over a period of six months. Trial 1 investigated the effect of tank background colour (light vs dark) on black blotching and other body colour components and was carried out using a fully inbred (all female) clonal red line. Trial 2 was carried out using mixed sex fish and was aimed to investigate the association of black blotching with the sex of the fish. The results from this study were used to guide the experiment described in Paper II. Sixteen red sires with various levels of black and red blotching were crossed to clonal females and the inheritance of blotching and other body colour components were investigated using parent-offspring regressions. The results showed no significant heritability for black blotching and body redness, but a significant correlation for body redness and black blotching was found in female offspring at one sampling point suggesting that attempts to increase body redness may increase black blotching, as had been hypothesized. Paper III was divided into two parts. The first objective was to map the blond locus onto the tilapia linkage map and the second was to investigate the interaction of the blond and red genes on black blotching using the blond-linked markers to distinguish different blond genotypes in heterozygous red fish (i.e. RrBlbl or Rrblbl). In the blond fish, the formation of melanin is almost blocked via much reduced melanophores and this feature may be able to help reducing the black blotching in red tilapia. Two intraspecific families (O. niloticus) and one interspecific family (O. aureus and O. niloticus) were used as mapping families and the blond locus was located in LG5. Four out of eight markers were successfully used to assess the interaction of blond on red blotched fish. The blond gene did not significantly reduce the area of blotching but did reduce the saturation (paler blotching) and enhanced the redness of body colour in the Rrblbl fish compared to the RrBlbl group. Finally, Paper IV aimed to find out the effect of male colouration on reproductive success in Nile tilapia. A choice of one wild type male and one red male was presented to red or wild type females and these fish were allowed to spawn under semi-natural spawning conditions. Eggs were collected from the female’s mouth after spawning and paternity was assessed using microsatellite genotyping and phenotype scoring. No significant departures from equal mating success were observed between the red and wild type males, however there was a significant difference between the red and wild type females in the frequency of secondary paternal contribution to egg batches. The results suggest that mating success of wild type and red tilapia is approximately equal. The results from this research help to broaden our knowledge and understanding on the aspects of body colouration in Nile tilapia and provide fundamental information for further research.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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