No area of biol­ogy can ignore genet­ics today

Bintan (photo H.Kishi)

The genetic research on fish cer­tainly lags behind sig­nif­i­cantly regard­ing time and extent com­pared to the research on many plants or on sev­eral other groups of ani­mals (e.g. birds). For licorice gouramis it started only a few years ago.

There are two main meth­ods used here. The first clas­si­cal method is very com­plex and expen­sive and is based on sequenc­ing the entire DNA. There­fore it can only be car­ried out at uni­ver­si­ties or major muse­ums and only in spe­cial cases. A sig­nif­i­cant eco­nom­i­cal inter­est was for exam­ple to know the genetic informatio

n of impor­tant food fish and thus the pri­or­i­ties were set here. So called orna­men­tal fish have only been inves­ti­gated to a lim­ited extent, but at least, some of them were licorice gouramis. This method has been applied at the Nat­ural His­tory Museum Lon­don; the researcher was Lukas Rüber.

The sec­ond method is far less expen­sive, although still com­plex, com­pared with the meth­ods of clas­si­cal phe­no­log­i­cal tax­on­omy. It has been shown that the inves­ti­ga­tion of a short part of the DNA is suf­fi­cient for the char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of a species – it is not nec­es­sary to carry out the tedious sequenc­ing of the rest of the whole DNA chain. This method is applied mainly by the so called “Fish BOL Group”, based in Guelph/​Canada. This group has the tar­get to cover the earth´s com­plete fish fauna in this way – an elu­sive objec­tive because at present we do not even know all fish species. The licorice gouramis are the best example.

Fac­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties with the phe­no­log­i­cal sep­a­ra­tion of species and vari­eties, the Parosphromenus project is very much inter­ested in finally obtain­ing reli­able genetic infor­ma­tion about our fish. Thus it coop­er­ates with both research tra­di­tions. Between 2005 and 2009 more then 250 licorice gouramis of almost all species, but also of fur­ther unspec­i­fied forms, have been inves­ti­gated accord­ing to the Fish-​BOL-​Method in Guelph by Dirk Steinke. The results are avail­able, but have not been pub­lished and eval­u­ated yet. We will report about it as soon as this is done. From 2010 onwards, Lukas Rüber, who is also a mem­ber of our sci­en­tific advi­sory board, will carry on with genetic research on Parosphromenus in Lon­don fol­low­ing the con­ser­v­a­tive methodology.



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