Inbreeding and disease in tropical shrimp aquaculture: a reappraisal and caution

I strongly recommend that anyone involved in shrimp aquaculture - particularly hatcheries but also anyone procuring PL - read the following paper which was published in Aquaculture Research - Ed.

The disease crisis facing shrimp aquaculture may be propelled, in part, by an interaction between management practices that cause inbreeding, and the amplification by inbreeding of susceptibility to disease and environmental stresses. The study describes and numerically simulates gene flow from Penaeus (Litopenaeus) vannamei hatcheries that employ a ‘Breeder Lock’ to discourage use of their PL as breeders, through ‘copy hatcheries’ that breed the locked PL, to inbred shrimp in farm ponds. Re-analysis of published data shows that inbreeding depression under stress is exceptionally strong in shrimp. Inbreeding is currently overlooked as a problem because: (1) procedures recommended for well-managed hatcheries do not consider their implications for the copy hatcheries that supply most farmed shrimp (estimated 70%), (2) inbreeding in hatcheries is often reported as zero even though zero is the mathematical expectation of the usual estimator (Fis, fixation index) whatever the true genealogy of the broodstock. Simulation shows, however, that inbreeding can be estimated with Wang's trioML estimator, that Fis can differentiate Breeder Locked from copy PL and that simple tests can verify the lock status of PL. The importance of inbreeding should be re-evaluated in the context of disease and environmental stress. Unrecognized inbreeding may increase the incidence, prevalence and lethality of WSSV, IHHNV, EMS (AHPND) and other diseases.

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