Epigenetics in aquaculture

“Epigenetics, as a discipline, started in the 1940s, but with a meaning different from how it is understood today. Initially, it was essentially related to what today is understood as developmental biology and how the phenotype comes into being. The modern concept of epigenetics (i.e., heritable changes in gene expression that are not related to changes in DNA sequence) arose around the turn of this century. The field has largely benefited from the advancements made after the sequence of the human genome and all emerging technologies to interrogate different aspects of the genome. There are three very important aspects to take into account: 1) Epigenetics integrates genomic and environmental influences to bring about the phenotype; 2) There is a large fraction of the phenotypic variance that cannot be explained solely on genetic variation that now we know can be explained by epigenetic variation; and 3) Epigenetic changes can be inherited and, thus, passed from parents to offspring into the following generations. Combined, this has prompted the implementation of epigenetic research into agriculture and livestock for improved food production. Recently, there has been both a clear interest in marine epigenetics and in the application of epigenetics in aquaculture. One of the main reasons is that aquatic, cold-blooded organisms are quite susceptible to environmental cues (e.g., temperature in a cold-blooded animal strongly influences growth rates). Further, in contrast to mammals, fishes seem to have little reprogramming and erasing of the epigenetic marks after fertilization, thus enabling epigenetic transmission of environmental influences on the next generation. Thus, there is a lot of interest for application of epigenetics in aquaculture. However, there are currently no books on epigenetics in aquaculture”–

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