In order to ensure sustainability and profitability of the aquaculture industry, it is critical to domesticate and selectively improve the major commercial fish species. To date, the genetic markers used in selective breeding of fish account only for a fraction of the observed phenotypic variation. EPIFISH is a timely project that will address fish domestication and selection from a new perspective using a multidisciplinary approach. The rapid pace of substantial phenotypic changes during adaptation to new environmental conditions in fish undergoing domestication suggests that epigenetic mechanisms are involved in this process. Thus, the overarching aim of EPIFISH is to ascertain the importance of epigenetics in fish domestication using the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) as model species.
Specific objectives are i) to determine how selection affects the miRNA transcriptome and the epigenetic landscape during domestication, ii) to perform a functional characterization of miRNA variants and epigenetic alleles associated with growth, and iii) to validate them as potential epigenetic markers for future selective breeding programmes. The identification of epigenetic markers will be a ground-breaking element of EPIFISH with major impact on aquaculture biotechnology, since they will enable the development and application of epigenomic selection as a new feature in future selective breeding programmes. Moreover, the project outcomes will provide novel mechanistic insights into the role of epigenetics in fish domestication, which will surely open new horizons for future frontier research in epigenetics.
Aquaculture is the fastest developing food production sector, accounting for more than 50% of the fish for human consumption worldwide. Fisheries are not expected to rise due to overexploitation of existing stocks, while the demand for fish to feed a growing global population is continually increasing.
EPIFISH is organised in to five interconnected work packages (WPs), which address the following research question: What is the contribution of epigenetic mechanisms (DNA methylation and miRNAs) to the observed growth improvement during fish domestication?
Aquaculture is the fastest developing food production sector, accounting for more than 50% of fish for human consumption worldwide. Fisheries are not expected to rise due to overexploitation of existing ...