Characterizing Genomic Diversity of Wild and Planted Oyster Populations in Chesapeake Bay to Better Inform Restoration

Principal Investigator:

Louis Plough

Start/End Year:

2018 - 2019


Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Co-Principal Investigator:

Fellow: Katie Hornick


Strategic focus area:

Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture


Hatchery-based enhancement of marine fisheries is being undertaken on a worldwide scale, but the genetic impacts of these practices, specifically their effects on diversity and long-term population resilience, are often not fully understood and rarely monitored. Intensive hatchery-based restoration is underway in the Chesapeake Bay supplement depleted eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica populations, but the potential genetic impacts of this program remain poorly understood. While previous and ongoing work in the Harris Creek sanctuary has generated baseline data on genetic impacts at one planted reef, it remains difficult to draw conclusions about the genetic impact of the restoration program with so few samples. Fortunately, our lab has recently acquired unique oyster samples from a series of restored Harris Creek locations with variable planting histories as well as from several wild populations in Virginia in and outside Chesapeake Bay. Leveraging ongoing sampling and genomic work in the lab, we propose a targeted project to sequence and generate genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data for these additional planted and wild samples (populations), and to use these data to estimate genetic diversity parameters and effective size (Ne) that can be compared among sites and populations. The high-resolution data obtained from this research will significantly improve the resolution of our hatchery vs. wild comparisons, will allow us to place genetic diversity metric estimates into broader context in the Chesapeake Bay and beyond, and finally will provide a crucial perspective on the real-world effects of intensive shellfish restoration programs.

The Blue Crab: Callinectes Sapidus

An essential resource for researchers, students, and managers.  Get your copy today!

pile of cooked crabs