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Development of a DNA chip for increasing productivity in dusky grouper captivity: an important marine species of the Brazilian coast

Abstract

Dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus) is a marine fish known for its high geographical distribution, belonging to the Epinephelidae subfamily, of which several species show high productive performance, especially in Asia. Due to the interest in the commercialization of meat, natural populations of dusky grouper have been suffering depletion for many years, which led the species to be classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and included in the Red Book of Endangered Brazilian Fauna. Although several scientific publications aim at the conservation of the species, little progress has been achieved in the development of aquaculture for the dusky grouper. Since the captive production of individuals with characteristics of economic interest is a potential tool for reducing the depletion of natural fish stocks, the present proposal aims to generate the practical and applied subsidies for future grouper genetic improvement programs. Therefore, the first objective to be achieved is the establishment of a genetically diverse founding population that guarantees long-term crossings without introducing inbreeding depression. Individuals from natural populations along the Brazilian coast will be collected and transported to the facilities of Redemar Alevinos, a partner company with extensive experience in captive breeding of grouper. Then, fragments of caudal fins from 150 individuals will be collected for DNA extraction at the company EcoMol, where the genome draft and GBS (Genotyping-by-Sequencing) analyzes will be carried out to identify SNP markers in individuals, and further studies of genomic wide association will be carried out to identify commercially interesting characteristics. Then, an array with the selected markers will be developed and tested using the current RedeMar fish farm broodstock as well as the others to be collected from wild to form the grouper base population broodstock. In this way, it is expected that the aquaculture sector of this species with high potential will start to develop with greater speed and that there will be a considerable reduction in fishing in wild populations of the same. The benefits to be achieved with the present proposal are aimed not only at the economic development of the two partner companies, but also of an entire sector that is still underestimated in Brazil. (AU)

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