JCU researchers have succeeded in mapping the entire genome of the Australian black tiger prawn

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The genetics of an iconic Australian seafood species, the Australian tiger prawn, have been sequenced by researchers, which could lead to a larger and more disease-resistant cultured stock in the future.

Researchers from James Cook University have been part of the first successful property to sequence the genomes of an Australian black tiger prawn.

The huge black tiger prawn

(Photo: Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

According to the North Queensland Register, Dean Jerry, professor of aquaculture at JCU and research participant, said black tiger prawn is the most important aquaculture sector in northern Australia.

It is a very promising species to meet some of the world’s food security challenges while providing high quality seafood to Australia, he added.

It is a species that has just been domesticated for agricultural purposes.

Prior to this effort, many genetic and genomic resources needed in a selective breeding setting, such as those found in livestock and plant species that have been domesticated and cultivated for thousands of years, were missing.

Dr Kenneth Chan, director of bioinformatics at AGRF, described the genetic mapping procedure used to reassemble the genome of the black tiger prawn as “devilishly difficult”.

Imagine Putting Something Together 1.9 billion borderless double-sided jigsaw puzzle pieces, long replicated intertwining sections, millions of missing pieces, multiple pieces that could fit in one place, no pictures on the box to guide scientists, and maybe many pieces of the other unconnected puzzle, Dr. Chan said.

Scientists also discovered something extremely strange about the way tiger prawn resisted viral infections, according to ScienceDaily.

CSIRO Principal Investigator Dr Nick Wade pointed out that the viral components of genomes that help fight infectious disease (known as the endogenous viral element) are truly unique in Australian tiger prawn.

Professor Jerry said the aquaculture industry, which faces similar health hurdles to farm animals and crop production, can now use more targeted and selective practices for disease susceptibility, genome providing an incredible tool for industry to increase efficiency and production.

According to Professor Jerry, it will enable the industry to select for rapid growth, strong consumer qualities and, most importantly, disease resistance in the face of changing environmental circumstances.

Read also: Millions of shrimp washed up on a beach in Chile

DNA sequencing

According to Britannica, DNA sequencing is a technique for determining the nucleotide sequence of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).

Genetic material is the most basic level of understanding of a gene or genome. It is the blueprint that contains the instructions for making an organism, and without it no knowledge of genetic function or evolution would be complete.

The Maxam-Gilbert technique, named after American molecular scientists Allan M. Maxam and Walter Gilbert, and the Sanger method (or dideoxy method), created by the English biochemist Frederick Sanger, were among the first generation sequencing technologies that appeared in the 1970s.

The Sanger method, which has become the more widely used of the two approaches, involved the synthesis of DNA chains on a template strand, but chain growth was halted when one of four possible dideoxynucleotides, lacking a hydroxyl group in 3′, has incorporated, preventing the addition of another nucleotide.

Later, the technology was used with automatic decoding machines, in which shortened DNA molecules marked with fluorescent tags were sorted by size in tiny glass capillaries and identified by laser excitation.

Related article: A better understanding of DNA sequencing

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