S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

News Story

Mapping Cobia Genome for Population Assessment, Restoration

Jan 6, 2023

Researchers at the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) are developing a new genetic tool to assess wild populations and enhance restoration efforts of cobia (Rachycentron canadum), a popular recreational fishery. Cobia travel to high-salinity estuaries to spawn, primarily in the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico, before heading back offshore. According to Tanya Darden, director of SCDNR’s Marine Resources Research Institute, the population has declined over the past two decades due in part to overfishing.

A white man in sunglasses holds a giant fish in two hands in front of a fishing pier.

Cobia caught by S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources scientist. Photo courtesy of SCDNR.

With funding support from the Consortium, Darden and her team are working to increase the efficiency of how cobia data are collected in order to boost restoration efforts. The entire cobia genome will be mapped using Next Generation Sequencing technology, and once this process is complete, a genetic marker will be developed to determine the sex of cobia at any life stage. This non-lethal and minimally-invasive tool will improve access to cobia sex ratio data, which will inform cobia hatchery and aquaculture production for use with inshore restoration efforts.

For more information, contact Tanya Darden at (843) 953-9819.