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Study to conserve genetic resources of tilapia
Thursday, 19 March 2015 12:23

With world fish stocks dwindling tilapia farming is a global success story, with production tripling in the past two decades.

It is now produces 4.5 million tonnes of affordable high-quality fish every year. It is sustainable because, unlike the salmon and sea bass grown in Europe, tilapia does not need to be fed lots of other fish caught from the oceans. It largely feeds on vegetable material and farmyard waste.

Globally only a few species and strains are cultured, but researchers from Bangor University say hundreds of unique wild populations, especially in Tanzania and Kenya, are likely to harbour priceless genetic diversity, with desirable traits such as fast growth, tolerance of extreme environments, peaceful temperaments or disease resistance. However, in recent years, standard ‘pond culture’ tilapia stocks have been released into the wild all over Africa, where they compete with native strains, hybridise with them, or may bring exotic diseases.

Professor George Turner of Bangor University’s School of Biological Sciences will lead a team of researchers aiming to find remaining pure wild stocks in Tanzania and recommend how they can be preserved, including if necessary, by deep-freezing sperm and other cells.

The team will also carry out large-scale full-genome sequencing to investigate the fate of native and exotic genes in places where they are hybridising.
 

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