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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GENETIC CHARACTERIZATION AND IMPROVEMENT OF SHELLFISH BREEDING STOCKS FOR THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST Title: Heritability of shell pigmentation in the Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas

Authors
item Evans, Sanford - OSU
item Camara, Mark
item Langdon, Christopher - OSU

Submitted to: Aquaculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 17, 2008
Publication Date: January 17, 2009
Citation: Evans, S., Camara, M.D., Langdon, C. 2009. Heritability of shell pigmentation in the Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas. Aquaculture. 286: 211-216.

Interpretive Summary: Using parent/offspring and full-sib analyses, we analyzed the genetic basis of shell coloration in the Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas. We estimated broad-sense heritability which includes dominance and epistatic genetic variance and narrow-sense heritability which includes only additive genetic variance as 0.91 ± 0.38 and 0.59 ± 0.19, respectively. We further examined the distributions of pigmentation levels among individuals within full-sib families and found that offspring within two families segregated into phenotypically distinct “lighter” and “darker” shell groups in a 3:1 ratio supporting the hypothesis that a single major gene is segregating in these families with the “light” allele being dominant over the “dark” allele. We conclude that selective breeding on this high additive genetic variance should be effective in altering total shell pigmentation but further work is needed to confirm the existence of a putative major gene affecting total shell pigmentation in C. gigas.

Technical Abstract: The Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) is a species of considerable economic importance, with among the highest global production of any cultured aquatic animal species. In the interest of increasing the value of Pacific oysters sold as “singles” for the half-shell market, we explored the feasibility of modifying shell pigmentation through selective breeding by estimating both the broad- and narrow-sense heritability of total left shell pigmentation in C. gigas. Twenty-six full sib families derived from parents collected from a naturalized population in Dabob Bay, WA, were spawned in the hatchery and raised in an intertidal environment for two years. At harvest, we sampled shells from each family and quantified their total left shell pigmentation using digital image analysis. We estimated broad-sense heritability based on full-sib intraclass correlations and narrow-sense heritability based on midparent-offspring regression as 0.91 ± 0.38 and 0.59 ± 0.19, respectively. We further examined the distributions of pigmentation levels among individuals within full-sib families and found high within-family variation in total shell pigmentation that in the majority of families was normally and continuously distributed. However, offspring within two families segregated into phenotypically distinct “lighter” and “darker” shell groups in a 3:1 ratio ('2, P>0.766) supporting the hypothesis that a single major gene is segregating in these families with the “light” allele being dominant over the “dark” allele. We conclude that selective breeding acting on this high additive genetic variance should be effective in altering total shell pigmentation and that further work is needed to confirm the existence and mode of inheritance of a putative major gene affecting total shell pigmentation in C. gigas.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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