The Asian Seabass Genome Project, spearheaded by the Reproductive Genomics Group at the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, Singapore,
was initiated in 2012. The project was in response to economic importance of the Asian seabass (Lates calcarifer) in order to allow for the
utilization of advanced genomic platforms into a selection program that is targeting polygenic traits, such as increased growth rate and disease
Nineteen research teams spread over 10 countries were brought together to embark on the genome project. This project is underpinned by
Pacific Biosciences’ long reads from single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing to produce a high-quality genome assembly. The annotation
of the genome was lead by SANBI (Cape Town, South Africa) with strong contribution from the Theodosius Dobzhansky Center for Genome
Bioinformatics (St. Petersburg, Russia).
The genome project web portal provides access to genome annotation data via a genome browser and an ftp site, and the Bass Explorer - a web
interface for identifying genome analysis data.We anticipate that the genome will be an important resource not only for the species itself
(e.g., development of genomic assays for establishing molecular aquaculture) but its relatives and other teleosts in general.
Rationale for selecting the Asian seabass.
The Asian seabass (Lates calcarifer) is a highly fecund, robust, tropical species; immensely popular as a food fish source in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. The species, which is also known as barramundi (Australia), pla kapong (Thailand), and many other local names, is of significant cultural and economic importance through most of the tropical Indo-West Pacific region. An opportunistic predator with a wide geographic range (North-Western India through South East Asia, Northern Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Western Pacific), Asian seabass is a catadromous, euryhaline teleost that belongs to the Family Latidae. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the species’ biology is its sequential hermaphroditic nature, as they typically first mature as males and later change their sex to females. Similar to other sex changers, very limited information is available on the molecular basis of the sex change process in Asian seabass. Given L. calcarifer’s (senso lato) wide geographical range across several known biogeographical barriers, it is also not surprising that an increasing body of evidence suggests the existence of a ‘species complex’ in the Indo-Pacific, rather than just a single species.