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Title: Genetic Management and Selective Breeding in Farmed Populations of Gilthead Seabream (Sparus aurata)
Authors: Brown, Richard Cameron
Supervisor(s): McAndrew, Brendan J.
Woolliams, John A.
Issue Date: Mar-2004
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) is one of the most important species of intensively reared fish in the Mediterranean region. Its short history of domestication, along with the need to develop markets, new products and efficiency in the production process, has resulted in an increased interest in the potential genetic improvement of this species. Little work has so far been directed at establishing the procedures for selective breeding in gilthead seabream at a commercial level, although genetic parameters calculated in other studies have indicated that there is a large potential for improvement in certain traits. Selective breeding of commercial gilthead seabream populations is constrained by aspects of the biology that complicate the production of genetic groups and the maintenance of same-age offspring populations. The aim of this thesis was to develop a protocol for the selective breeding of gilthead seabream, specifically to serve a commercial hatchery and on-growing unit in Cyprus, where the fieldwork was carried out. The hatchery broodstock was monitored over a three-year period to identify the rate of sex reversal in introduced fish and to quantify the sex ratio of the stock over time. The analysis of the egg production records was used to evaluate the success of photoperiod manipulation in each group. Size variation in the larval and juvenile stages is a common problem in the rearing of gilthead seabream, leading to cannibalism and labour-intensive sorting operations. Studies on larval populations, from first feeding through to metamorphosis, indicated the origin of size variation was the differences in early feeding ability. The size advantages could be maintained throughout the larval period. During the juvenile stage of the farm production system, a method to standardise the size sorting of populations by grading was developed in order to counter environmental effects of separating groups of fish. Using this method, grading would be suitable to form the first stage of a selection programme for growth rate. The potential gain of selection for growth rate during the on-growing stage was very high, using a simulated criterion and previous estimates of heritability. Other possible quality traits for selection were also examined and quantified in the hatchery populations. Existing and specifically developed microsatellite markers were used for the assignment of offspring to parents from mass spawning of the hatchery broodstock. The effective population size of single spawning events were found to be low and determined by a high variation in contribution to mass spawning. Contribution was found to be significantly linked to body size, which led to the formation of a replacement policy for the broodstock to maximise spawning performance. Survival of individual families through the larval period was also examined. Based on the results of the experimental work, a two-stage selection programme was designed, along with the presentation of specific procedures for each stage of the production system. This project makes recommendations on various strategies that can increase the effective population size within a selection programme and these are discussed as part of the genetic management of hatchery populations. Significant progress has also been made in the use of genetic markers in monitoring the rate of inbreeding and contribution of individual broodfish, which are considered essential in this species.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Natural Sciences

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