Press Release

January 28, 2016

Fisheries Research Agency

Development of a DNA chip that will improve bluefin tuna farming technologies

  • We have developed a DNA chip that allows the analysis of all bluefin tuna genes.
  • This chip allows prompt analysis of various features over the life cycle of bluefin tuna.

Owing to the decrease in the natural stock of Pacific bluefin tuna (hereinafter, bluefin tuna), there are increasing expectations regarding the realization of stable aquaculture production using artificially raised seeds. However, to achieve this, many issues need to be addressed, including spawning control for adult fish, improving the survival rate, measures against viral infections, and prevention of cannibalism and deaths by collision. Activities of organisms are controlled by proteins encoded by genes; therefore, to solve these problems efficiently, it is effective to focus on genes and investigate when, where and how the genes associated with these problems work.

A research group in which the Fisheries Research Agency plays a main role predicted the existence of 26,433 genes based on the entire genome of bluefin tuna. Here, to investigate the working of all genes, we have developed a DNA chip ― a microscope slide onto which bluefin tuna DNA is applied at high density. By looking at which genes on the chip the transcription products (messenger RNA) of genes obtained from a tissue or cells of bluefin tuna hybridize to and to what extent, it is possible to determine the expression dynamics of individual genes in the tissue/cell, allowing estimation of the working of genes associated with maturation, the development of juvenile fish, nutritional requirements, the body’s defenses, and so on. Using these findings to develop early spawning techniques, superior feed mixes, vaccines, and others, we believe that we can improve aquaculture techniques for bluefin tuna and contribute to stable aquaculture production of fish.

These findings will be published in Gene (a special issue on marine genomics) to be issued on February 1, 2016, which adds new articles to the reports of the International Symposium on Aquatic Metagenomics co-hosted by the Fisheries Research Agency and Kitasato University in November 2015. All of the genetic information of the DNA chip can be downloaded from the following website:

The bluefin tuna DNA chip that we have developed
One microscope slide can measure the expression
level of all bluefin tuna genes for four samples

Photo DNA chip that covers all the genetic information of bluefin tuna