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Tilapia, a model fish for research and genome frequencing

GERMANY - Tilapia, a fish that originates from southern countries, has been introduced in over 100 countries. It is the second most commonly produced fish in aquaculture in the world after carp (99 per cent is produced and consumed in China).

Raising tilapia is easy and inexpensive. It adapts well to fresh or salt water and fattens fast. Unlike most salmoniforms in aquaculture (salmon, trout, perch, bream), for which fishmeal and fish oil constitute an essential part of their diet, tilapia is lower down in the trophic or food chain and feeds on algae, plankton or small animals. In extensive and semi-extensive production systems, tilapia is largely fed on vegetable waste (rice, cotton, etc.).

Thus, with output exceeding 2 million tons each year, tilapia production contributes to sustainable development without damaging marine resources. This is one of the arguments put forward to support research into the complete sequencing of the tilapia genome. In addition, it is one of two species of interest to aquaculture which is being studied more than any other in laboratories.

Sex determination at the service of aquaculture
This model fish belongs to the order percomorphs which includes many French and European species, such as perch, bream and pargo bream. These fish take a long time to reach sexual maturity, which means that their genetic study is not easy. As tilapia has a short generation gap, it can be used as a study model for improving percomorphs. It is also the main group used for studying the phenomena of speciation (birth of a new species).

Of the 10 laboratories involved in the tilapia genome sequencing project, CIRAD and Stirling University of Aquaculture (Great Britain), are particularly interested in the benefits that the project may represent for aquaculture. They are researching genes linked to characteristics of interest, such as growth, rusticity, sex ratio (proportion of males to females), etc.

Source: Innovations Report

the Fish Site Editor

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