A genetic linkage map of the channel catfish genome (N=29) was constructed using EST-based microsatellite and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers in an interspecific reference family. A total of 413 microsatellites and 125 SNP markers were polymorphic in the reference family. Linkage analysis using Join Map 4.0 allowed mapping of 331 markers (259 microsatellites and 72 SNPs) to 29 linkage groups. Each linkage group contained 3-18 markers. The largest linkage group contained 18markers and spanned 131.2 cM, while the smallest linkage group contained 14 markers and spanned only 7.9 cM. The linkage map covered a genetic distance of 1811 cM with an average marker interval of 6.0 cM. Sex-specific maps were also constructed; the recombination rate for females was 1.6 times higher than that for males. Putative conserved synteniesbetween catfish and zebrafish,medaka, and Tetraodon were established, but the overall levels of genome rearrangements were high among the teleost genomes. This study represents a first-generation linkage map constructed by using EST-derivedmicrosatellites and SNPs, laying a framework for large-scale comparative genome analysis in catfish. The conserved syntenies identified here between the catfish and the three model fish species should facilitate structural genome analysis and evolutionary studies, butmore importantly should facilitate functional inference of catfish genes. Given that determination of gene functions is difficult in nonmodel species such as catfish, functional genome analysis will have to rely heavily on the establishment of orthologies from model species.
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