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Identifications of Captive and Wild Tilapia Species Existing in Hawaii by Mitochondrial DNA Control Region Sequence

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051731
  • Research Article
  • Agriculture
  • Aquaculture
  • Fish Farming
  • Biology
  • Computational Biology
  • Sequence Analysis
  • Ecology
  • Ecological Metrics
  • Species Diversity
  • Genetics
  • Population Genetics
  • Genetic Polymorphism
  • Animal Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Comparative Genomics
  • Marine Biology
  • Fisheries Science
  • Zoology
  • Ichthyology


Background The tilapia family of the Cichlidae includes many fish species, which live in freshwater and saltwater environments. Several species, such as O. niloticus, O. aureus, and O. mossambicus, are excellent for aquaculture because these fish are easily reproduced and readily adapt to diverse environments. Historically, tilapia species, including O. mossambicus, S. melanotheron, and O. aureus, were introduced to Hawaii many decades ago, and the state of Hawaii uses the import permit policy to prevent O. niloticus from coming into the islands. However, hybrids produced from O. niloticus may already be present in the freshwater and marine environments of the islands. The purpose of this study was to identify tilapia species that exist in Hawaii using mitochondrial DNA analysis. Methodology/Principal Findings In this study, we analyzed 382 samples collected from 13 farm (captive) and wild tilapia populations in Oahu and the Hawaii Islands. Comparison of intraspecies variation between the mitochondrial DNA control region (mtDNA CR) and cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene from five populations indicated that mtDNA CR had higher nucleotide diversity than COI. A phylogenetic tree of all sampled tilapia was generated using mtDNA CR sequences. The neighbor-joining tree analysis identified seven distinctive tilapia species: O. aureus, O. mossambicus, O. niloticus, S. melanotheron, O. urolepies, T. redalli, and a hybrid of O. massambicus and O. niloticus. Of all the populations examined, 10 populations consisting of O. aureus, O. mossambicus, O. urolepis, and O. niloticus from the farmed sites were relatively pure, whereas three wild populations showed some degree of introgression and hybridization. Conclusions/Significance This DNA-based tilapia species identification is the first report that confirmed tilapia species identities in the wild and captive populations in Hawaii. The DNA sequence comparisons of mtDNA CR appear to be a valid method for tilapia species identification. The suspected tilapia hybrids that consist of O. niloticus are present in captive and wild populations in Hawaii.

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