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Keywords:

  • aquaculture;
  • body weight;
  • cortisol;
  • Dicentrarchus labrax;
  • European sea bass;
  • morphometry;
  • QTL mapping;
  • selection;
  • stress response

Summary

Natural mating and mass spawning in the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L., Moronidae, Teleostei) complicate genetic studies and the implementation of selective breeding schemes. We utilized a two-step experimental design for detecting QTL in mass-spawning species: 2122 offspring from natural mating between 57 parents (22 males, 34 females and one missing) phenotyped for body weight, eight morphometric traits and cortisol levels, had been previously assigned to parents based on genotypes of 31 DNA microsatellite markers. Five large full-sib families (five sires and two dams) were selected from the offspring (570 animals), which were genotyped with 67 additional markers. A new genetic map was compiled, specific to our population, but based on the previously published map. QTL mapping was performed with two methods: half-sib regression analysis (paternal and maternal) and variance component analysis accounting for all family relationships. Two significant QTL were found for body weight on linkage group 4 and 6, six significant QTL for morphometric traits on linkage groups 1B, 4, 6, 7, 15 and 23 and three suggestive QTL for stress response on linkage groups 3, 14 and 23. The QTL explained between 8% and 38% of phenotypic variance. The results are the first step towards identifying genes involved in economically important traits like body weight and stress response in European sea bass.