Queen conch, Strombas gigas, is a large marine gastropod, indigenous to the The Bahamas and wider Caribbean. Queen conch populations support a substantial commercial fishery throughout the Caribbean region; however, populations have been severely depleted due to high human consumption demands.
Unless steps are taken to restore healthy S. gigas populations, the species will soon be in danger of extinction. The ultimate aim of our research, in collaboration with the Gerace Research Centre and The College of The Bahamas, is to establish a habitat-based nursery on San Salvador Island in The Bahamas.
We are using genetic markers called microsatellites, which are short tandem DNA repeats that are polymorphic and codominant, making them ideal for tracking parentage and estimating genetic diversity. We have begun analyzing eight microsatellite loci to determine if the primer combinations developed by Zamora-Bustillos et al. (2007) for pink conch can amplify similar microsatellite loci in queen conch.
To confirm that primer combinations amplify the correct microsatellite loci, amplified fragments are cloned, sequenced and compared back to known DNA sequences using a BLAST query through the National Center of Biological Information. Microsatellite loci amplified by primers Sgig 1, 2 and 7 had 98%, 88% and 93% identity matches (respectively) to the sequences published by Zamora-Bustillos et al. (2007).
Furthermore, the probability these matches were random were 1 x 10-70, 8.0 X 10-20 and 2 x 10-20 for Sgig 1, 2 and 7 respectively. The combinations of high percent similarity and the low probability of a match by chance, make us confident that we have successfully amplified three of the eight microsatellite loci described by Zamora-Bustillos et al. (2007).
David Fischer, ’13
De Pere, WI
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Terraneisha Croffitt, ’13
New Orleans, LA
Sponsor: Craig Tepper