Genetic Structure of Different Populations of Walking Catfish (Clarias batrachus L.) in Bangladesh

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Information on genetic variation is essential for conservation and stock improvement programs. Seven dinucleotide microsatellite loci were analyzed to reveal genetic variability in three wild populations (Kella beel, Hakaluki haor, and Shobornokhali beel) and one hatchery population of the freshwater walking catfish, Clarias batrachus, in Bangladesh. Upon PCR amplification, the alleles were separated on polyacrylamide gel using a sequencing gel electrophoresis system and visualized by the silver-staining method. The loci were polymorphic (P95) in all the populations. Differences were observed in number and frequency of alleles as well as heterozygosity in the studied populations. Current gene diversity (He) was higher than expected under mutation-drift equilibrium, significantly in the Hakaluki haor and Shobornokhali beel populations, indicating a recent genetic bottleneck. Population differentiation (FST) values were significant (P < 0.05) in all the population pairs. A relatively high level of gene flow and a low level of FST values were found between wild population pairs compared to hatchery-wild pairs. The unweighted pair group method with averages dendrogram based on genetic distance resulted in two major clusters: the hatchery population was alone in one cluster whereas the three wild populations made another cluster. The results reflect some degree of genetic variability in C. batrachus populations indicating potentialities for improving this species through a selective breeding program. The results revealed a recent bottleneck in some wild populations of C. batrachus. Protection of habitat may help increase the population size and lower the risk of vulnerability of the species in the future.

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