Penaeid genetics and biotechnology


The application of biotechnology to penaeid prawn aquaculture is increasing in importance. Early doubts that such approaches were unnecessary, given the crude state of development of the prawn aquaculture industry, have been replaced by the recognition that sophisticated molecular approaches will be required to tackle key problems of disease recognition and control, and to achieve higher production through the development of domesticated strains.

Progress in penaeid genetic and biotechnological research has been slow because of a lack of knowledge on fundamental aspects of their biology. However, data is beginning to emerge from research projects started in the last decade, and is likely to increase rapidly in the next 10 years. Highly variable markers have been developed that allow the genetic variation in prawn stocks to be assessed, even in highly inbred cultured lines.

The extent to which growth rate is under genetic control has now been assessed in some species using rigorous experimental designs to estimate heritabilities. Highly sensitive techniques that allow the isolation and characterisation of very small quantities of peptides are being used to investigate the endocrine control of reproduction, and work has begun on the isolation and characterisation of genes that play an important role in growth and reproduction.

Greater attention is being paid to developing cell lines for prawns, and to the development of molecular probes for the identification of pathogens. These tools will provide a basis for a more detailed description of the penaeid prawn genome, for understanding disease resistance, and for developing effective control of reproduction and the development of disease free or disease resistant domesticated lines.

Aaron Province
Journal of Biotechnology & Biomaterials
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