Contributions of IMSEGI.2007 (2) .pdf

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Journal of Shellfish Research, Vol. 26, No. 4, 1183–1184, 2007.


Guest Editor:
Acacia Alcivar-Warren
Department of Environmental and Population Health
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
300 Westboro Road
North Grafton, MA 01536 USA


Journal of Shellfish Research, Vol. 26, No. 4, 1183–1184, 2007.

Worldwide, wild shrimp populations are seriously threatened by a variety of pressures, including habitat destruction,
chemical and biological pollution, and gene depletion. These
threats also jeopardize the continued success of global shrimp
aquaculture and public health. In November 1996, with funding
from the Rockefellers Brothers Fund, Inc., Tufts University
scientists began collaborating with Dr. Jurgenne Primavera at
the Southeast Asian Fishery Department (SEAFDEC), Philippines, to address some of these concerns with respect to the
giant tiger prawn, Penaeus monodon. The researchers developed
microsatellite genetic markers to assess genetic diversity of
P. monodon in various locations in the Philippines and reported
an estimate of the population structure using six microsatellite
genetic markers. In addition, we discovered an association
between genetic diversity and habitat status (i.e. presence of
mangrove forests or intensity of shrimp aquaculture). In 1998,
with support from Tufts University and anonymous private
funding, we created the International Marine Shrimp Environmental Genomics Initiative (IMSEGI) to address similar issues
representing the natural range of the species in other countries.
Individual researchers, academic institutions, and government agencies from Ecuador, Thailand, Guatemala, Mexico,
China, and Peru, among others, have signed memoranda of
understanding with Tufts University to join in and participate
in field and basic research through this successful regional and
international collaboration.
The long-term goals of IMSEGI are to support the conservation of penaeid shrimp species and develop a sustainable
shrimp aquaculture industry. We are accomplishing these goals
by collecting samples of wild shrimp on a regular basis and
monitoring the following: (1) structure of the meta-population
of wild penaeid shrimp species – began developing a database of
species biodiversity based on taxonomy analysis, (2) levels of
genetic differentiation of selected species – began with Penaeus
monodon and Litopenaeus vannamei, (3) pollutant load –
including pathogens, heavy metals, PCBs and PAHs in penaeid
shrimp populations along their natural range.

Currently, we are compiling a database to track biological
and environmental parameters such as shrimp length, weight,
sex, prevalence of viral diseases, allele diversity, salinity,
temperature, and the status of mangrove forests, among others.
Using Geographic Information System (GIS), we also are
collecting information on the biodiversity of accompanying
species at different locations, and studying the association
between genetic differentiation/pollutant load with ecosystem
health (i.e. condition of mangrove forests and intensity of
shrimp farming and other agro-industries).
Our discoveries could be valuable to both fishery managers
and shrimp breeders in their efforts to conserve shrimp resources and develop a sustainable industry. We have disseminated
our findings through both oral and poster presentations at
various meetings of the World Aquaculture Society and Aquaculture America in past years. Specific papers report preliminary data about topics such as: conservation and population
genetics of wild marine shrimp, ecosystem (mangrove forests)
conservation and pollutants in wild marine shrimp, associations
of disease prevalence with habitat status, and development of
molecular markers for: population genetic studies, tracking
pedigrees in shrimp breeding programs, differentiating among
wild penaeid species, traceability of shrimp in international
trade, assessing risk to natural shrimp populations caused by
the potential release of cultured and transgenic shrimp, development of linkage maps and mapping quantitative trait loci
(QTL) associated with fitness traits.

I thank all of the authors who submitted manuscripts for
publication in this and the next issue of the Journal of Shellfish
Research, as well as the numerous referees who volunteered
their time to review the papers. My special thanks to the
National Shellfisheries Association for accepting this compendium of papers. Funding for this publication was provided
by the Department of Environmental and Population Health,
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University,
the US Department of Agriculture, USDA-CSREES, Burapha
University, Thailand and anonymous gifts.


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