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Considering epigenetics in aquatic species culture and conservation

Bio: Steven Roberts is the Kenneth K. Chew Endowed Associate Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. Dr. Roberts received his Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Notre Dame in 2002. His main research interest is the physiological response of aquatic species to environmental change with a particular focus on environmental epigenetics, reproductive biology, and aquaculture.

Abstract: Epigenetics has attracted considerable attention with respect to its potential value in many areas of aquatic species conservation and aquaculture. Epigenetics refers to processes that result in heritable alterations in gene activity without manipulating the underlying DNA sequence, and includes processes such as DNA methylation and histone modification.  From an aquaculture perspective, one could leverage epigenetics via environmental manipulation, where the intention is to induce an ‘epigenetic memory’ either within or between generations to produce a desired phenotype. Epigenetic selection could be used, which, alone or combined with genetic selection, may increase the reliability of producing animals with desired phenotypes. With regard to conservation, we can now better understand acclimatization and adaptation and begin to use epigenetics in defining relatedness and make predictions on species distribution.

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