The scientists of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research’s (ICAR) Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture have succeeded in sequencing the whole genome of the grey mullet, Mugil cephalus.
Known as Madavai in Tamil, the flathead grey mullet is distributed worldwide and mostly inhabits the coastal sea waters and estuaries.
“The fast-growing herbivorous fish has high demand as food fish, their egg (mullet roe) are traditional delicacies in many countries and are of great economic value to the global fisheries and aquaculture sector,” said Principal Scientist M.S. Shekhar, who headed the research team.
What paved the way for the decoding of the genome was induced breeding trials and captive seed production of the grey mullet by another team of researchers led by M. Kailasam, another Principal Scientist. “It changed everything. Till then we were completely dependent on wild resources,” explained K.P. Jithendran, Director of the CIBA.
Subsequently, the scientists headed by Mr. Shekhar achieved a very high-quality genome assembly containing 27,269 protein-coding genes. The other members of the team are Vinaya Kumar Katneni, Ashok Kumar Jangam, J. Raymond Jani Angel and Krishna Sukumaran
“The whole-genome assembly would provide the baseline information needed to implement genetic improvement programmes for this commercially important fish species in the future. We will soon launch a selective breeding programme. We can improve the commercially valuable traits including increase in size and disease resistance,” Mr. Shekhar said.