Research Publication Title

Identification of Tilapia Species Through Microsatellite Genetic Analysis

Major

Biology

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. David Weese

Keywords

population genetics, microsatellites, molecular ecology, tilapia, invasive species

Abstract

The introduction of an invasive species to an ecosystem threatens the natural biodiversity of that ecosystem and can lead to economic and environmental damage. Most successful invasive species have similar characteristics that cause them to harm an ecosystem such as rapid growth, high reproduction rate, tolerance of varying conditions, and phenotypic plasticity. The same traits that make invasive species harmful, make them ideal candidates for certain industries. A perfect example of this is tilapia in the aquaculture industry. Tilapia have been successfully farmed for over sixty years in Hawaii, but the accidental introduction of certain tilapia species to freshwater systems have led to the creation of hybrid tilapia species and stringent regulations on the importation of various tilapia species. These restrictions have prevented the expansion of aquaculture production in the Hawaiian Islands and prohibited the importation of Oreochromis niloticus, an extensively farmed species of tilapia. Recently, wild populations of O. niloticus were discovered in Hawaii which has led to events that have eased some restrictions. To monitor potential effects on the importation of O. niloticus, it is important to have baseline data on the level of genetic diversity of regional biota prior to restrictions being lifted. The goal of this work is to conduct baseline assessments of the genetic diversity of cultured and feral populations of tilapia across the Hawaiian Islands prior to the importation of O. niloticus.

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Identification of Tilapia Species Through Microsatellite Genetic Analysis

The introduction of an invasive species to an ecosystem threatens the natural biodiversity of that ecosystem and can lead to economic and environmental damage. Most successful invasive species have similar characteristics that cause them to harm an ecosystem such as rapid growth, high reproduction rate, tolerance of varying conditions, and phenotypic plasticity. The same traits that make invasive species harmful, make them ideal candidates for certain industries. A perfect example of this is tilapia in the aquaculture industry. Tilapia have been successfully farmed for over sixty years in Hawaii, but the accidental introduction of certain tilapia species to freshwater systems have led to the creation of hybrid tilapia species and stringent regulations on the importation of various tilapia species. These restrictions have prevented the expansion of aquaculture production in the Hawaiian Islands and prohibited the importation of Oreochromis niloticus, an extensively farmed species of tilapia. Recently, wild populations of O. niloticus were discovered in Hawaii which has led to events that have eased some restrictions. To monitor potential effects on the importation of O. niloticus, it is important to have baseline data on the level of genetic diversity of regional biota prior to restrictions being lifted. The goal of this work is to conduct baseline assessments of the genetic diversity of cultured and feral populations of tilapia across the Hawaiian Islands prior to the importation of O. niloticus.