Population Genetics Project


Sportfishing and aquaculture rely on healthy wild fish stocks that require both genetic conservation and genetic enhancement. The purpose of this project is to conduct population genetic research through collaborations with academic institutions, state and federal government agencies, and the private sector. The long-term goal is to provide genetic information to support programs in both genetic conservation and genetic enhancement. In many cases, bench mark or baseline genetic information must be collected in order to assess natural genetic resources, genetic diversity, and the impact of management practices. The population genetics project conducted in The Fish Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology Laboratory involved the collaboration of Department of Natural Resources of several states.


To determine genetic relationships among selected fish populations;
To catalog genetic variations and genetic diversity for the purpose of genetic resource conservation and management;
To protect threatened and endangered species through enhancement programs;
To determine and monitor the impact of fish stocking on genetic diversity and on existing gene pools.


Gulf Striped Bass Project
Various DNA marker systems have been used for the identification of native stocks of gulf strains in striped bass in southeastern states. Specific genetic analysis is conducted to differentiate the gulf strain from the Atlantic strain.

Smallmouth Bass Project
Initial analysis using allozyme markers reveal the presence of three distinct groups of smallmouth bass. The purpose of recent studies conducted by Auburn researchers is to provide information on genetic resources of smallmouth bass in terms of genetic diversity and allele frequencies in various populations from these groups. Microsatellite markers have been used that provide both codominance of inheritance and high levels of polymorphism, allowing maximal differentiation of the related populations.

Appalachian brook trout populations in the southeastern US Hatchery stocks originating from northeastern brook trout populations were often used to restore declining populations of brook trout in southeastern streams. Based on morphological evidence, it has been suggested that the northern brook trout populations differ from the southern populations. By comparing allele frequencies and analyzing fixed markers that separates these two populations, Auburn researchers are studying the population structure and genetic make up of the populations of native southern brook trout in southeastern US.

Delta Bass Genetics
Preliminary data suggested that the Mobile delta largemouth bass may be genetically distinct from both Florida and Northern largemouth bass populations in southeastern United States. Employing SSR technology, Auburn Researches are using DNA markers to determine both the inventory and genetic variations in Delta largemouth bass populations.


Fisheries managers work very hard to preserve our natural resources. In order to effectively manage the natural resources of fish, population genetic information is required. Results of our efforts would help different stakeholders to better manage fish populations by trying to preserve genetic integrity of native populations. In addition, determination of the extent of genetic variability in these populations would assist decision making as to what genetic materials are used for stocking. The information will also be extremely helpful in aquaculture production because aquaculture still relies heavily upon wild stocks for broodfish and off-spring in many cases. The population genetic studies should benefit genetic conservation programs, as well as genetic enhancement programs.

Principal Investigators and Affiliated Institutions

Principal Investigators

default avatar
Huseyin Kucuktas
Research Fellow IV
203 Swingle Hall Auburn Univ, AL 36849

Affiliated Institutions

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Freshwater Fisheries Division
Georgia Department of Natural Reseources, Fisheries Division
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission