Seafood provenance through population-specific DNA methylation

A person leaning over the edge of a ship lifting up a large toothfish.

Development of specific biomarkers will help to locate where fish are harvested. © Dale Machette – Australian Antarctic Division

Food provenance is an important issue in the seafood sector where quality and sustainability are linked to specific fisheries or aquaculture practices.

This project explores a potentially useful new ‘omics source of population-specific biomarkers – variation in DNA methylation patterns. The feasibility of the approach will be tested in Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) as a model species.

Australia has an expanding fishery for the Antarctic toothfish in East Antarctica and the fish are harvested in several distinct Antarctic regions by other nations. The species lacks genetic structuring, so there are no traditional genetic provenance markers available to determine where harvested fish originated.

The project will provide an exciting opportunity to examine variation in DNA methylation at a population level and will provide insight into the usefulness of this biomarker in provenance applications.

Lead: Bruce Deagle