• genetic variation;
  • hatchery stocks;
  • microsatellites;
  • Sparus aurata


Genetic variation in seven reared stocks of gilthead sea bream Sparus aurata, originating from Greek commercial farms, was assessed using five polymorphic microsatellite markers and was compared with that of two natural populations from the Ionian and the Adriatic Seas. The total number of alleles per marker ranged from 11 to 19 alleles, and hatchery samples showed the same levels of observed heterozygosity with samples from the wild but substantially smaller allelic diversity and expected heterozygosity. The global genetic differentiation for the cultivated samples was significant as indicated by Fst analysis, which might indicate random genetic drift and inbreeding events operating in the hatcheries. On the contrary, no significant difference was found between the two wild populations. Population pairwise tests between farmed and wild stocks were also significant, with the exception of one hatchery sample, the Central Greece 1, which was not significantly different from the two wild samples perhaps due to its recent use in aquaculture from wild-caught animals. The UPGMA tree topology grouped the wild samples together with the Central Greece 1 stock, and showed a clear division between wild and farmed sample sets for the six remaining hatchery samples. Knowledge of the genetic variation in S. aurata cultured populations compared with that in the wild ones is essential for setting up appropriate guidelines for the proper monitoring and management of the stocks either under traditional practices or for the implementation of selective breeding programmes.