Improvement of the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) reference genome and development of male-specific DNA markers.
The Pacific bluefin tuna, Thunnus orientalis, is a highly migratory species that is widely distributed in the North Pacific Ocean. Like other marine species, T. orientalis has no external sexual dimorphism; thus, identifying sex-specific variants from whole genome sequence data is a useful approach to develop an effective sex identification method. Here, we report an improved draft genome of T. orientalis and male-specific DNA markers. Combining PacBio long reads and Illumina short reads sufficiently improved genome assembly, with a 38-fold increase in scaffold contiguity (to 444 scaffolds) compared to the first published draft genome. Through analysing re-sequence data of 15 males and 16 females, 250 male-specific SNPs were identified from more than 30 million polymorphisms. All male-specific variants were male-heterozygous, suggesting that T. orientalis has a male heterogametic sex-determination system. The largest linkage disequilibrium block (3,174?bp on scaffold_064) contained 51 male-specific variants. PCR primers and a PCR-based sex identification assay were developed using these male-specific variants. The sex of 115 individuals (56 males and 59 females; sex was diagnosed by visual examination of the gonads) was identified with high accuracy using the assay. This easy, accurate, and practical technique facilitates the control of sex ratios in tuna farms. Furthermore, this method could be used to estimate the sex ratio and/or the sex-specific growth rate of natural populations.