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Study to conserve genetic resources of tilapia

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

It is now produced 4.5 million tones
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.
Globaly, 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 harbor
priceless genetic diversity, with desirable traits such as 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 hybridizing.
Source: Baird Maritime

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