Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2006-07


A genetic test for recruitment enhancement in Chesapeake Bay oysters, Crassostrea virginica, after population supplementation with a disease tolerant strain.




Hare, MP; Allen, SK; Bloomer, P; Camara, MD; Carnegie, RB; Murfree, J; Luckenbach, M; Meritt, D; Morrison, C; Paynter, K; Reece, KS; Rose, CG


Conservation Genetics 7(5):717-734




Many of the methods currently employed to restore Chesapeake Bay populations of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, assume closed recruitment in certain sub-estuaries despite planktonic larval durations of 2-3 weeks. In addition, to combat parasitic disease, artificially selected disease tolerant oyster strains are being used for population supplementation. It has been impossible to fully evaluate these unconventional tactics because offspring from wild and selected broodstock are phenotypically indistinguishable. This study provides the first direct measurement of oyster recruitment enhancement by using genetic assignment tests to discriminate locally produced progeny of a selected oyster strain from progeny of wild parents. Artificially selected oysters (DEBY strain) were planted on a single reef in each of two Chesapeake Bay tributaries in 2002, but only in the Great Wicomico River (GWR) were they large enough to potentially reproduce the same year. Assignment tests based on eight microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA markers were applied to 1579 juvenile oysters collected throughout the GWR during the summer of 2002. Only one juvenile oyster was positively identified as an offspring of the 0.75 million DEBY oysters that were planted in the GWR, but 153 individuals (9.7%) had DEBY x wild F1 multilocus genotypes. Because oyster recruitment was high across the region in 2002, the proportionately low enhancement measured in the GWR would not otherwise have been recognized. Possible causes for low enhancement success are discussed, each bearing on untested assumptions underlying the restoration methods, and all arguing for more intensive evaluation of each component of the restoration strategy.

Related Research Project(s) Funded by Maryland Sea Grant: 

Maryland Sea Grant Topic(s): 

'Related Research Project(s)' link to details about research projects funded by Maryland Sea Grant that led to this publication. These details may include other impacts and accomplishments resulting from the research.

'Maryland Sea Grant Topic(s)' links to related pages on the Maryland Sea Grant website.