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Title: Genetic Management of the Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus)
Author(s): Frank-Lawale, Anu Samuel
Supervisor(s): McAndrew, Brendan J.
Issue Date: Aug-2005
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) was selected as a new aquaculture candidate towards diversification from salmonid culture. The species was chosen because of its high market value and perceived good growth in the cold waters of the target farming regions. Extensive and collaborative research efforts formed the basis for the culture of this benthic marine species. Broodstock populations were established from a limited number of wild individuals due to the high costs involved in their capture. First generation hatchery reared offspring are now being selected as replacements but with no knowledge of a broodstock replacement strategy to manage this valuable genetic resource and to maximize the potential of this species the industry runs the risk of genetic degradation with the associated problems of inbreeding depression. This thesis investigates the processes involved with developing a genetic management strategy, using genetic profile technology, based on a population in Scotland at Otter Ferry Seafish Ltd. The level of genetic variability of 70 individuals in the parental population and 802 of their offspring (F1) in two year classes (1995 and 1998) was assessed at 7 microsatellite loci. The parental population which was comprised of three different stocks was genetically diverse, however, when compared with their offspring, substantial reductions in genetic variation, as judged by allelic diversity, were observed. The parentage of these F1 individuals was determined by exclusion principles and 91% of all the offspring genotyped were unambiguously assigned to a single parental pair. The assignment revealed that only half of the parents succeeded in contributing to the F1 generation. This problem was compounded by the fact that the family sizes were highly skewed such that the entire population consisted of a small number of large families resulting in an unacceptably low effective population size of 8.11. The inbreeding coefficient in the F1 generation was 6.16% however this differed markedly between the 1995 (7.74%) and 1998 (10.64%) year classes. The repeatability of reproductive performance defined by five performance traits reflecting quantity and quality of eggs, frequency of stripping events and viability was assessed by REML using data collected over three spawning seasons from 239 F1 females. The phenotypic correlations obtained between quality and quantity traits were low in magnitude and the study showed that with the exception of seasonal activity, all traits studied improved with age. There was also an effect of photoperiod in that fish kept under a 4 month-delayed regime did not perform as well as the fish under a one-month extended regime. Of all five traits, only volume of eggs collected was repeatable (r=0.37±0.07). This suggests that it is the only reproductive character influenced by the fish and all other traits, especially those pertaining to egg quality are determined by management practices. The heritability of body weight at four stages in the growout phase of production was estimated by REML using data from 486 F1 individuals. These animals were reared in two different sites, a land based tank and a sea cage. Significant effects of site, sex and grade were observed and by the end of the trial the average weight of fish in land based system was higher by 2 kg. Females were over 3 kg heavier than males and this difference was attributed to precocious maturation while fish in the smaller grade were consistently though decreasingly lighter than their larger counterparts. Heritabilities, derived from sire, dam and combined estimates ranged from 0.09 to 0.53 with wide confidence intervals. The poor precision of the estimates was due to the highly imbalanced family structure and the small number of offspring studied. Values varied depending on the age of fish and the source of variance used to estimate them. Heritabilities increased with age and although sire estimates were higher than dam estimates these differences were tested and the results obtained consistent with the conclusion that they represent nothing more than chance. The results suggested that selection for increased body weight in the halibut was likely to be successful. Based on the findings of the study a genetic management strategy for the Atlantic halibut was proposed structured on controlling the rate of inbreeding and a theory of domestication. The need to introduce additional individuals into the population was strongly recommended.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Natural Sciences

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