New Flow Cytometer Enables Specialized Oyster Production at PEARL

August 22, 2019

Development of new triploid and tetraploid oyster stock is a primary breeding objective of PEARL for use to support Maryland's aquaculture industry. PEARL purchased and installed a Flow Cytometer in May 2019 through support from Morgan State University's Office of Technology Transfer. The flow cytometer is a critical piece of equipment used to determine the "ploidy" of broodstock and offspring, a necessity for triploid and tetraploid production. The determination is accomplished by comparing the relative DNA content between tested samples against a reference diploid sample. By using the Flow Cytometer, PEARL can initiate triploid production and provide ploidy determination service. This service is not just restricted to oysters, but available to any animal or plant species if normal diploid references are provided.

Flow Cytometer 2

Flow Cytometer 1

Polyploidy technology (chromosome set manipulation) has been shown to speed-up growth and improve the yield and quality of plant and animals cultivated in agriculture and aquaculture. As an example, triploid oysters produced by tetraploid oysters, comprise one third of Pacific oyster production on the West Coast of the U.S. and over 80% of hatchery production in France. The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) triploids are widely grown in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and along the Gulf Coast. More than 90% of cage-cultured oysters in Maryland are triploids. This provides a good solution to the slow-growth issue caused by the low salinity along Maryland's Chesapeake Bay shorelines.

For additional information on the PEARL aquaculture program or for ploidy analytical services, please contact Dr. Ming Liu (ming.liu@morgan.edu).