ARS, Cooperators Find Genes Involved in Yellow Perch
By Chris Guy
June 11, 2010
Twenty-eight genes that are involved in
bulking up yellow perchan important aquaculture fish in the Great Lakes
regionhave been discovered by Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists and university researchers.
Usually, female perch grow faster than their male counterparts, a disparity
that causes productivity losses because farmers have to sort out the smaller
males. Also, the smaller males still need to be maintained on feed until they
reach market size, delaying harvest and increasing production costs.
Improvements in production efficiency of the U.S. perch industry would
strengthen the farmers regional and global competitiveness.
Shepherd, at the Milwaukee, Wis.-based aquaculture research unit affiliated
with the ARS
Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wis., worked with scientists from
the University of Wisconsins WATER
Institute in Milwaukee. The Great Lakes
WATER (Wisconsin Aquatic Technology and Environmental Research) Institute
is the largest academic freshwater research facility in the region.
In their indoor tank study, the researchers discovered the growth-linked
genes by feeding perch standard diets supplemented with estrogen. Estrogen is
not fed to fish in commercial production. The researchers only used it to
trigger genes that control growth.
After three months, the perch were much larger. Researchers then sequenced
genes from the fish livers to better understand the actual molecular mechanisms
by which estrogen promotes growth in males versus females. They found 28 genes
that may be involved in the link between estrogen and growth. Understanding the
involvement of these genes in growth, and possibly in other commercially
important traits, should help breeders boost yellow perch production
This research was published in Physiological Genomics.
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The
research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security.