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Genetica. 2001;111(1-3):291-304.

Selective recovery of founder genetic diversity in aquacultural broodstocks and captive, endangered fish populations.

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Genetic Computation Ltd., Halifax, NS, Canada.


Hatchery broodstocks used for genetic conservation or aquaculture may represent their ancestral gene pools rather poorly. This is especially likely when the fish that found a broodstock are close relatives of each other. We re-analysed microsatellite data from a breeding experiment on red sea bream to demonstrate how lost genetic variation might be recovered when gene frequencies have been distorted by consanguineous founders in a hatchery. A minimal-kinship criterion based on a relatedness estimator was used to select subsets of breeders which represented the maximum number of founder lineages (i.e., carried the fewest identical copies of ancestral genes). UPGMA clustering of Nei's genetic distances grouped these selected subsets with the parental gene pool, rather than with the entire, highly 'drifted' offspring generation. The selected subsets also captured much of the expected heterozygosity and allelic diversity of the parental gene pool. Independent pedigree data on the same fish showed that the selected subsets had more contributing parents and more founder equivalents than random subsets of the same size. The estimated mean coancestry was lower in the selected subsets, meaning that inbreeding in subsequent generations would be lower if they were used as breeders. The procedure appears suitable for reducing the genetic distortion due to consanguineous and over-represented founders of a hatchery gene pool.

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