Rose Follis

Genetic stock identification in American Monkfish (Lophius americanus) from the Northeast U.S.

Biology, Dr. Carlin
About My Research:

Monkfish (Lophius americanus) are fast-growing marine fish found in the shallow coastal waters from St. Lawrence, Canada to North Carolina.  In 2000, they accounted for the fifth highest revenue of marine fishes. The U.S. has divided the species range into two management units, or stocks. We wish to examine the level of genetic variation between monkfish collected from both stocks to determine if there has been a history of interbreeding between them. This summer the DNA of the monkfish samples was isolated, and a process called PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) was used to copy specific sections of microsatellite DNA. Microsatellites are highly variable, and are not generally subject to natural selection. Mutations (indicated by variation in the molecular weight of the DNA segments) should, therefore, be random as long as the monkfish’s mating habits are random. Therefore, if interbreeding has occurred between the stocks there should be lower variation in their microsatellite segments. Since current regulations assume the two stocks are of separate genetic populations, if inbreeding has occurred modifications to the management structure of the monkfish species might need to be reconsidered.

This research was supported by a 2009 Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research.

In the student's own words :

"The best part of doing research at Gustavus is being able to take the time to really delve into topics and procedures that interest me. Introductory classes and labs only have time to briefly cover most topics. During the school year, if I am interested in a topic I rarely have time to study it further outside of class. Doing research not only allows, but requires you to examine a subject until you have a full working understanding of it. It also gives you an idea about what it's like to focus in on a specific biological field, as most professionals will do after college."

Professional Abstract:

Monkfish (Lophius americanus) are among the most harvested marine fish in the North Atlantic. However, little information is known about their movements or mating habits. This experiment identified variable loci, with the ultimate goal of examining genetic variation between monkfish harvested from the North and South U.S. stocks. Genomic DNA was isolated using the Promega Genomic DNA purification kit from 42 monkfish samples collected in both management areas. Four loci cloned by Blanco et. al. (2008) from Lophius budegassa were then optimized using polymerase chain reaction(PCR). One locus, primer set LbA46, was successfully amplified. Primers Lbc16 and LbA152 showed some potential for later amplification. Lbc30 showed no activity, and has been eliminated as a possible locus for distinguishing among Lophius americanus genetic stocks.

More student thoughts:

"One advantage of working at Gustauvs is that it's a comfortable environment. You're already familiar (or practically living in) the building you will be doing research in, and you're given the opportunities to work with professors you've meet in a classroom for months. Especially when you’re starting, doing research can be an intimidating idea. I think not having to adjust to new surroundings and people helps ease the transition from student to researcher."