Big Genomic Data for fast-growing aquaculture

By Hanping Wang, Senior Research Scientist

OSU South Centers Aquaculture research team has completed whole genome sequencing of yellow perch and bluegill. These are the first Percidae and Centrarchidae (sunfish) that have been fully sequenced.

Yellow perch belong to the family Percidae, including about 200 species in 10 genera. The perch, darter, and their relatives are in this family and well-known species of great economic value include the three species of perch, walleye, sauger and ruffe.  

The bluegill is a member of the sunfish family Centrarchidae. The family has 37 species including many well-known species such as largemouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed, rock bass and crappies. All are native to North America only.

Both yellow perch and bluegill are very important aquacultural and recreational fish species. Bluegill display high levels of both intraspecific and intersexual reproductive competition, with males growing significantly faster and bigger than females. Yellow perch display a distinct pattern of sexual size dimorphism versus bluegill, with yellow perch females growing much bigger and faster than males. Monosex culture of these two species has a great advantage for the aquaculture industry. However, their gender regulation and sexual size dimorphism mechanism is unclear. It has great scientific and economic value to identify the sex determining genes and discover sex differentiation and sex determination, and sexual size dimorphism mechanisms.

Information of the whole genome in these two species makes it possible to see how genes interact with each other, and examine the exact gene that governs economically important traits such as fast-growing and disease resistance. In domesticated animals, such as cattle, pig, chickens, and other major aquaculture species (e.g., catfish, salmon, trout, and tilapia), their genomes are being used to improve breeding programs and production. The completion of the genome of yellow perch and bluegill allows the same to be done with these two species. The perch and sunfish genome sequence data provide useful genetic resources and lay an important foundation for discovering the molecular mechanism of growth, sex determination and sex control, reproduction related to aquaculture, and conservation of wild stocks for over 100 economically and environmentally important percid sunfish species.