A Japanese team of scientists are now announcing that they are close to completing genome sequencing of the Bluefin tuna. Once they have reached this goal, their next project will be to use their knowledge to create a tuna breeding program for a new type of tuna specially designed for aquacultures.

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The wild tuna populations have become severely depleted due to overfishing and the WWF has warned that the Atlantic Bluefin tuna will be eradicated within three years unless radical measures are taken to safeguard remaining specimens.

“We have already completed two computer sequencing runs and have around 60 per cent of the tuna genome,” says Dr. Kazumasa Ikuta, director of research at the Yokohama-based Fisheries Research Agency. “We expect to have the entire sequence in the next couple of months. We plan to use the sequence to establish a breeding programme for bluefin tuna as most aquaculture farmers presently use wild juveniles. We want to establish a complete aquaculture system that will produce fish that have good strength, are resistant to disease, grow quickly and taste delicious.”

The genome sequencing is the result of the collaborative efforts of scientists from Japan’s Fisheries Research Agency, Kyushu University, and The University of Tokyo.